We’ve been eating out for 10 days now. That includes every meal which can get tiresome on nights when all I’d want is a simple home-cooked ‘something’. Seeing that we have to dine out, we’ve been trying new restaurants instead of sticking to our regular ones.
I came across NuocMam, a Vietnamese/Japanese restaurant on Great Portland Street, on tastelondon.co.uk. Hubby was game, so I booked us a table for dinner last night. The restaurant is only a few minutes walk away from Oxford Street tube station.
The only downside to the evening was at the start. They couldn’t find my name on their reservations list, and after being asked to repeat my name 3 times, I wanted to ask them ‘what would you like my name to be’.
Anyway, we got seated in the end. We were assigned a friendly waiter who wasn’t pushy in the least. Neither hubby nor I had ever had sake, so we asked if a quarter bottle would be too little for the 2 of us. The waiter encouraged us to try it, assured us that a quarter bottle would be enough but we could always order something else afterwards if we wanted to.
We ordered Lychee sake, which was very tasty, easy to drink and smooth. If it weren’t for a school-night, we would have ordered more.
For starters, we shared a portion of summer rolls, which were prawn and salad wrapped in rice paper served with sweet yuzu sauce. The combination of prawns, vermicelli salad and mint leaves were extremely fresh, and the dipping sauce provided a sweet/tangy flavour to the dish. A pleasant change to our usual choice of fried spring rolls.
We also shared a portion of spicy crispy squid served with yuzu sauce. The dish came with a fresh salad, and every mouthful was a delight. The squid didn’t taste at all of, well, squid, but it was very crunchy and the salad plus dressing was simply addictive. I could have easily eaten a plate all by myself.
We normally share dishes when dining in Asian restaurants. For our main courses, we ordered Vietnamese lamb curry with potatoes. The taste was similar to a Thai yellow curry, but sweeter. I am a big fan of sweet flavours in savoury dishes. Hubby really enjoyed this dish with jasmine rice. I think he liked it for the meat and potatoes.
As a contrast to the curry, we ordered steamed seabass served with pak choi in a ponzu sauce. The ponzu sauce was citrusy, bittersweet, but not overpowering. One portion of the seabass was wrapped around skinny asparagus. Shiitake mushrooms, spring onions and carrots completed the dish, all of which added texture and flavour complementing the steamed seabass.
For dessert, Hubby and I shared one of the specials, black-eyed peas cooked in coconut milk. Now my mum used to make a similar pudding, but with possibly mung beans and sago or glutinous rice, for afternoon tea. Years before she decided all that sugary-sweet goodness was bad for our hearts and waistlines. The NuocMam version was very tasty, but I think I enjoyed it more than Hubby.
I had booked the restaurant through tastelondon.co.uk, and there was an offer for 50% off the food bill. I think they do good offers through toptable.co.uk as well, which is pretty good for a weekday meal. Definitely one to revisit.