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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.

'You can get an egg on anything!" I told my seven-year-old daughter while perusing the menu at Nobi Public House. She's a picky eater and altogether in favor of the current Portlandia-perfect food fetishization of the egg. She inquired, as she has been known to do, about egg-topped eggs with a side of eggs, but was steered instead toward the right-hand side of the menu, full of noodle and rice dishes, which promise of an egg-adder sweetening an already tempting pot. It seemed as if the culinary minds behind Nobi had custom-built their pub grub with her palate in mind, and that made our late lunch in a strip mall off NASA Road 1 all the more pleasant.

It was a little after 4:30 p.m. on a Monday, and Nobi was a bit noisy despite the thin crowd. A small room full of hard surfaces will do that, I suppose, but the levels can get a bit much as the place fills up. At that hour, it was just enough to allay our fears of potential disruption, the chatter and iPhone-gaming buzz of our kids lost in the wash of other conversations.

A "public house" denotes something more than a place to grab a quick pint. If you care to read the lengthy entry on the subject in The Oxford Companion to Beer, you'll find the phrase full of its own history, distinct from alehouses (the public house's progenitor) and other mean drinkeries. A home away from home; a place to gather with friends and neighbors; a place to discuss the events of the day, the week, the world. It's a place for community and conversation, both of which, at Nobi, revolve around beer. 40 taps' worth, including a nitro tap and a cask engine, and enough bottled options to fill a multipage spread.

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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Even at that early hour, the bar was peopled with obvious regulars, everything but a hearty "Norm!" indicating fondness and familiarity as each of them took his or her plush leather seat at the bar. Conversations drifted our way, one about the distinctions between West Coast and any other form of IPA, another about the seemingly endless progression of local breweries opening in recent months and years, and what that portends for Texas craft beer. A few weeks before our first visit, local beer activist group Open The Taps had been out at Nobi, raising funds and awareness (and no doubt a pint or two) of the quintet of craft beer bills (SB 515-518 and 639) that recently passed the Texas House and Senate. It's that kind of place.

It's not, however, a great Vietnamese restaurant. Not that it's trying to be.

Pretty consistently, the "pub" food at Nobi is best when left to its "grub" devices. Take the Butter Garlic Wings, simple and meaty affairs with pleasantly crispy skin and a glaze you'll want to lick from your fingers. Or a plate of Pork Fries — an ungainly sounding but immediately gratifying mélange of most likely frozen potatoes (their skins still a bit wan), Vietnamese chargrilled pork, nacho cheese, onions, pickled jalapeño and salsa — which came as a right and ready sponge for a pint of Yellow Rose, a lovely and fragrant IPA from Magnolia-based Lone Pint Brewery. With a nose full of guava and a wonderful punch of citrus flavor, it was delicious and refreshing between jagged forkfuls of fries. The plate was clean within minutes; even the picky kid shouldered in for her share of pork and potatoes.

Those fries are an "off-the-menu" item, along with a handful of other dishes, such as the Nobi Dog we had on another night, during a more adult 8 p.m. visit that found Nobi busy but not so packed that we failed to find a quick seat nor so hectic as to make a mess of the thoughtful full-service setup. I found the dog a bit busy, its panoply of toppings (everything from chargrilled pork to sriracha mayo and shredded carrots) providing no real sense of identity, and all leaning a bit sweet. Everyone else at the table loved it. It was a late addition, brought out swiftly by an incredulous waiter to our already food-laden table. He also dealt handily with a few "bartender's choice" requests, despite the fact that one came from a confessed Bud Light drinker, albeit one who promised an open mind and a willing palate.

I've seen fear and hesitation in the eyes of some bartenders when they're faced with the prospect of selecting a drink for an unknown guest, an endeavor rife with potential disappointment, but ours handled it with aplomb. A snifter of the aforementioned Yellow Rose for the macro-drinker and a pint of Karbach Weisse Versa to meet the request for "nothing too girly," and both of the indecisive drinkers were decisively pleased.

We were all pleased with the decision to order the nachos, a pile of house-made, freshly fried flour tortilla triangles topped with the same messy amalgam of Viet-stadium ingredients as the Pork Fries, and equally enjoyable. If anything, the satisfying crunch of the chips proved a better vehicle for the messy jumble of trimmings, and the pile disappeared in large, stop-motion swaths.

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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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