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Ex-chowhounder skylineR33 and myself first tried out this place about a week after they first opened. Our impression at that time was so-so, finding the quality of the Pho fairly mundane with the broth lacking depth and complexity. After reading some other foodie's comment pertaining to NAM's current elaborate offering of herbs accompanying their noodle.....not to mention latest review on other blogs like Yelp citing this place as ' one of the best Vietnamese place ' in the GTA. My curiosity level was raised significantly and I was determined to give it another try!
At around 6.15 pm on a Sunday evening, this smallish place was jammed packed. Noticing there was a weekend special of ' Crab Noodle Soup ' on the daily special board, I decided to give it a try. As for my son, he ordered a Pho with chewy and fatty brisket. On top, we had their Vietnamese spring roll as starter.
The Spring Roll, using traditional rugged wrapping was nicely done and good. Outer shell was crispy and grease-less. The filling authentic and tasty.
My crab noodle soup arrived next and was very impressive and exotic looking! Crab aroma emitting from the broth was very pronounced as was the taste. In addition to the crab, Fried tofu, Pig's blood jello, Vietnamese Luncheon meat and minced pork balls made up the rest of the contents. First impression? So far so good!
Unfortunately, the accompanying major component of Fried soft-shell crab, though crunchy and crisp was overly greasy and the batter flavorless. However, the bed of exotic herbs the crab was rested on was awesome looking...an eye opener!
The beef brisket Pho was last to arrive. Once again, like before, I found the broth lacking the beefy complexity, though visually, it was nice and clear. Just as what authentic broth from a Hanoi Pho should look like! Unlike Richie's comment though, the broth was not salty at all. In fact, much more sodium is needed. Overall, the taste profile was tasty but also kind of interesting with some secondary herb and spice elements bringing the overall sensation to some unfamiliar territory. Minimal star anise aroma was present, instead, I detected cardamom, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorn and other South Asian spices.....an acquired taste for those who are used to star anise based broth? BTW, it was toward the end of our meal that we noticed they forgot to give us the side plate of bean-sprouts, Thai-Basil and Lime segment.... condiments! A definite No-No!!
Based on this ' ups and down ' experience, there are IMO, still other authentic Vietnamese offerings worthy of exploring further.......however, no big rush!
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