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Nobi Public House: A Very, Very, Very Fine House

Nobi's pub food is best when left to its "grub" devices.

If you want to test Nobi's bánh mì mettle, keep your fingers crossed. My first visit found its namesake baguette dense and chewy, like a grocery store specimen, without any of the airy crumb and crackling crust of the genuine article. It made me wonder if the choice to forgo the normal labeling, listing the several options (chargrilled chicken or pork, tofu, egg, fried shrimp) simply as "Sandwiches," was intentional, a nod to the fact that, while the inspiration is a bánh mì, the sandwich isn't quite. I'm glad I gave them another go, because the subsequent version found the bread much improved, though its fried shrimp were a bit lost in the mix. You'll want the fried egg topper, regardless, as the sandwich can be a bit dry and benefits from the lubrication. Be sure to specify over easy.

Here I must quibble a bit. Those eggs, available on most menu items for a nominal charge, frequently come overcooked. I wanted the yolk to break, flowing with golden promise into the crevices of the fried rice siding my order of Shaking Beef, but was met firm disappointment. The rice was fine, more steamed rice blown over with a bit of wok hei than what you might be expecting, but I'd ordered the egg for a reason. Likewise, it would have added a needed dose of richness to the under-browned cubes of beef themselves. I'd probably skip the Shaking Beef in the future, and the fried rice is no more exciting as a main portion. You can get that with chargrilled pork or chicken, tofu, shrimp or a combination of the meat offerings. The combo's what we got, and it was serviceable.

Wok hei, the "breath of the wok," is that subtly smoky flavor that frequently accompanies wok-cooked foods, formed (partly) from vaporized cooking oil as the ingredients are tossed over extremely high heat, and it's an important element in the stir-fried noodle dishes here. Get the combination — chicken, pork and shrimp — and enjoy the toothy bite of the slightly crimpy noodles. The toppings are plentiful, though they begin to feel repetitive across the menu, and the dish is satisfying and simple.

Nobi's pub food is best when left to its "grub" devices: like this chargrilled pork.
Troy Fields
Nobi's pub food is best when left to its "grub" devices: like this chargrilled pork.

Location Info

Map

Nobi Public House

241 E. NASA Parkway
Webster, TX 77598

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Outside Houston

Details

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Nachos (Chicken, Pork, or Tofu): $6
Butter Garlic Wings (8): $6.50
Pork Fries: $7
Chargrilled Pork Sandwich: $4.50
Fried Shrimp Sandwich: $5.50
Chargrilled Pork Salad: $8
Nobi Dog: $6
Wonton Soup: $3/$5
Combination Fried Rice: $8
Combination Stir Fried Noodles: $9
Shaking Beef: $9
Combination Vermicelli: $10
Beer: $4.50-$9.50
Growler Fills: Market Price


View More:

Slideshow: Pints, Pork Fries, and Pleasant Conversation: Nobi Public House Has Passion for Pub Culture
Blog: Craft Beer, Conversation and Community at Nobi Public House


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Vermicelli bowls round out the noodle offerings, again with your choice of those now familiar protein options, but are lesser dishes by far. Even doused liberally with nuóc châm, the dish came across as bland. Far better, and much more unexpected, was the salad. I'd goaded my wife into ordering it, citing professional obligation, and then had to fight her for bites. A salad in name only, it's really just a heap of delightfully chewy chargrilled pork (or chicken, etc.), tossed with a chipotle-laced dressing and deposited, still warm, on a bed of rough-chopped iceberg lettuce. Dotted with tomatoes, half-moons of cucumber and slivers of red onion, it's a riot of flavors and textures, spots of contrasting temperature adding another dimension to the dish. Everything works as it should, the iceberg a fresh and coolly crunchy contrast to the firm and savory meat, the onions adding bursts of pungency. I'd order that again in a heartbeat.

Likewise the wonton soup, another surprise item on the menu. With its mild, buttery broth, inflected with a liberal dose of black pepper, it's a rustic and perfect backdrop for the same crimpy noodles that appear elsewhere in stir-fried form. They're a bit reminiscent of packaged ramen but with a richer, slightly eggy flavor and a much more refined texture. The wontons — I counted at least five, divvied up among my kids with one for me — were tender and meaty and just big enough for a mouthful. Suitably simple, they tasted like pork and garlic, with maybe a bit of ginger peeking through here and there. At $3 for a cup, that would make a meal; it's a steal I'd return for at lunch, were Nobi a bit closer to my office.

As it is, I can't see coming to Nobi much outside of drinking hours, which is just fine by me. You may want to extend the definition of "drinking hours" to a long and liquid lunch, and if you do you'll find a quieter Nobi. Lest the trappings of table service and a full menu fool you, though, Nobi is certainly more bar than restaurant. The tables are a bit cramped when loaded with much more than a few plates of fries or nachos, the menu ends up a slightly repetitive rehashing of ingredients in varied formats, and few of the dishes stand well enough on their own to warrant a visit. That doesn't mean Nobi isn't worth a visit. It most assuredly is.

You'll go, though, to drink good beer around people who want to do the same. You'll go, maybe, to strike up a conversation about some of the newest breweries to hit Texas taps, many of which found early footholds at Nobi. I missed out on Southern Tier Crème Brûlée and Pumking by a few weeks, and have spent every Thursday since scanning Nobi's Facebook page for the newest tapping. When something exciting pops up, you'll go to snag a growler to enjoy at home. If you're part of the craft beer community, you'll go because Nobi is, too. I, for one, am glad to welcome it to the neighborhood.

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2 comments
bford2
bford2

If a person is a true foodie, then Nobi isn't going to be great for them... but to the average person used to bar food, it is much better...

BUT again... the best reason to go to Nobi is the tap list.  I'm surprised to hear about one of their bar staff acting that way.  I am a fairly regular patron and have found all of them to be friendly and pretty well versed on their beers and styles.

I'm a fan of the Pork Sandwich.. with extra meat and a fried egg.  I get it almost every time.  I love to add plenty of Sriracha.. probably more than most.

Anway, Nobi was/is a huge step up for the Webster/Clear Lake area in regards to craft beer.  A few new places are opening around and that is a good thing.  I do look forward to the day Nobi can expand and can add some noise suppressing materials in the room.  A few good wall hangings at the right places could make a big difference.  

Overall, Nobi is an amazing addition to the area.  Charles, Channing and crew have done a great job and I am glad they are open to serve me deliciousness in liquid and solid forms.

jacob.reader27
jacob.reader27

Nobi has excellent food and a good beer selection. Here's the problem: have been there twice and was waited on by the same guy. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue except this guy has an awful attititude and little to no knowledge of the beer stock. Sat down with some friends and inquired to one of the many beers on the menu. His response "uh, I'm not sure if we have any left". WHAT?? Maybe it would be beneficial for you to verfiy what you have in stock before your shift starts. I'm not asking for the world here but not treating me like I just kicked your dog after I ask you for a beer in a beer store would be a step in the right direction. Place was WAY to crowded on both occasions and uncomfortably loud. Food is exemplary and beer is very good. Advice to management: hire some help that treats the customers better and maybe try looking into expanding.

 
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