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Josh

Nam Eatery Vietnamese Cafe, Casual Vietnamese with Phở and Bánh Mì on E. 20th and Columbia Street in The Heights

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Great lunch today at Nam Eatery in the Heights.  This is a clean (both in terms of sanitation and in decor), brightly lit joint with an unfortunate "umsa-umsa" dance music soundtrack playing.  We had just finished a school tour with the 3-year old, and despite the hot & humid weather, he opted for the child's-sized pho with meatballs and a homemade passion fruit limeade.  The pho was a great size (I would love to be able to order that size so I could sample other dishes), and comes out bare, ready to be dressed at the "pho vegetables" station up front (complete with hoisin and a few different chili and sauce options).  I'd give the broth a 7/10.  Light and clear, but with a reasonable depth of flavor.  I look forward to comparing and contrasting with other places around town.  The limeade was delicious, and I'll have to dig deeper into the long list of fruit teas and smoothies they offer.

My banh mi with house paté and 2 over easy fried eggs was great, made even better with a schmear of smoky chili paste taken from the sauce selection.  The baguette was appropriately light and crispy.  I originally ordered the "combination," with steamed pork roll and cold cuts, but they no longer serve it because "no one ever ordered it."  For shame, Houstonians.  For shame.  Cristina's "shaking tofu" vermicelli bowl was fantastic, with nicely fried cubes of tofu, sautéed onion and halved garlic cloves, along with the typical vegetable accompaniments.  The fish sauce accompaniment was delicious, though a little less acidic than I'm used to.  Not a complaint, just an observation.  A shared shrimp "spring roll" was a fresh, herb-packed roll I've more often seen called a "summer roll," served with the standard peanut sauce for dipping.  Nothing life-changing here, but a fine rendition.

Given its proximity to our new house, Nam will assuredly be in the rotation, and I look forward to further exploring the menu. (Also, bring back the combination banh mi! I'll order it.)

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I stumbled upon this interesting article about Nam Eatery:

Aug 23, 2017 - "Paleo Vietnamese? They Have It at Nam Eatery" by Alice Levitt on houstoniamag.com

The "zoodles" may not be as hearty as vermicelli (the starch in the vermicelli gets leached into the broth, and thickens it), but for a healthy alternative, this looks like a fine bowl of soup.

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