Saturday, 25 April 2009

Namo - Outstanding Vietnamese Restaurant

'Outstanding'. 'Amazing'. These are words that are rarely uttered by my husband – an accomplished cook and a very considered critic. But Namo's food is both of those things. And the restaurant is a lovely, friendly, funky neighbourhood operation that reminded us of some of our favourites in New York. We began with fine, icy lychee vodka cocktails laced with lemongrass and moved on to a very decent Pinot Grigio and 'Hue' –a very good, golden, hoppy Vietnamese beer. Yes, we did eat too. We shared a first course of crispy duck, which was perfect – only lightly shredded, with a dark, thick, crunchy skin. Smearing the pancakes with the sweet plum sauce, we eagerly filled them with the delicate matchsticks of cucumber before loading them with the richly aromatic duck. Iain ordered Bo Vi Huong, a deliciously soupy beef curry spiced with native star anise and egg fried rice. I had Cha Ca La Vong - the signature dish from a hundred-year-old Hanoi restaurant. Monkfish is marinated in tumeric and a tangy shrimp sauce and served with vermicelli, creating a wonderful mix of textures and flavours. Both were outstanding. Pak choi is one of the few vegetables my Scottish husband really enjoys, but even I was surprised when he exclaimed that our side dish in a thick ginger and sesame soy sauce was 'amazing'. The whole bill came – with a sweet, little parcel of pastel coloured jelly beans and a 'thank you' label – to just over 50 pounds. A very good price for excellent, authentic food, served with love by the helpful, happy staff. Namo is on 178 Victoria Park Road, E9 7HD. Tel 0208 533 0639.