Since it sometimes feels as if I’ve tasted virtually everything, it’s always a wonderful surprise when I get the opportunity to sample something new. That’s exactly what happened when Lorin and I enjoyed a lunch at Namese a few months back.
Located on the corner of Tulane and South Carrollton Avenue, Namese was once a convenience store that sold Chinese food to-go. What with the surge of interest in Vietnamese cuisine and the changes that are slowly-but-surely happening in this previously unloved corridor, the owners sensed it was kismet to get back to their roots and open a full-service restaurant.
Though it was cold the day we visited, I could totally see returning in the springtime (and I have!) to lounge on their spacious and comfortably-furnished patio out front. But on this particular occasion, Lorin and I sat inside. After placing our order, we munched on complimentary prawn crackers and talked about all things food-related while we waited.
First to arrive was an appetizer we ordered to share, a dish of shrimp and avocado spring rolls with a rich, dark peanut sauce for dipping. Needless to say, the rolls were fresh, flavorful and gobbled up in no time at all. Shortly thereafter, our entrees arrived and I couldn’t help oohing and aahing … at least a little.
Lorin ordered their Shakin’ Steak that was marinated, pan-seared and served with jasmine rice and pickled vegetables. Me? I was in the mood for pho, so I chose the filet mignon. Now, I’m pretty sure I’ve ordered filet mignon pho at almost every Vietnamese restaurant in the city, but not once has it ever been served up like it was at Namese.
Instead of just a bowl of soup, Namese took it one step further bringing out the pho (with noodles and veggies, of course) with a separate plate of raw, thinly sliced beef. Essentially, I was cooking each piece of meat in the piping hot broth right before stuffing it into my face. It was fantastic! Especially with their spicy, sate chili sauce that I added to each bite. Although it might not seem like much, this added dimension to the meal made all the difference. I just love trying new things . . . especially when it’s food!