$13 at Nam Vietnamese Cuisine Restaurant on Fondren

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: Nam Vietnamese Cuisine Restaurant, 2727 Fondren, 713-789-6688

What $13 gets you: A delicious, healthy, heartwarming meal – followed by a firm slap in the face

That was my experience, anyway.

I wandered into Nam not knowing what I was getting into. It’s located in a charming little mall just north of Harwin. It was after two and I arrived hungry. I knew right away that I had scored when I saw Press food critic’s Robb Walsh’s review from about three years ago framed and hanging on the wall.

I got the daily special, grilled snapper ($8.95), and since it was before three o’clock it came with choices of egg drop and chicken rice soups, spring or egg rolls and fried rice or vermicelli noodles. I wanted a Vietnamese coffee ($2.50) but decided instead to stick with water and lemon and leave a more generous tip.

Recommended? Yes, I recommend it, even if that does make me unadventurous, mainstream and white bread.

Do I sound defensive? Well, maybe I am. Before writing this review – in which I planned to sing the praises of a thick moist filet well-charred and draped in a sweet sauce and mix of crunchy fried and fresh scallions – I decided to take a gander at what Robb wrote back in August 2005.

I learned from Robb’s mostly unflattering review that Nam “is a Vietnamese restaurant for Anglos. Even the furnishings, which look to be Early American, indicate an attempt to make suburbanites feel at home.”

The menu, he wrote, exhibited “white-bread tendencies. It skips such favorite Vietnamese ingredients as jellyfish, cuttlefish and goat. And it includes Americanized Chinese restaurant glop like sweet-and-sour chicken and fried wontons filled with cream cheese.”

Mmmm, cream cheese.

The thing is, Robb’s right. The place is Americanized, especially when compared to the more authentic Vietnamese eateries on Bellaire near Beltway 8. But I liked it. And I’ll probably go back. Does that make me – gasp! – like a suburbanite?

Bonus point: Next door to popular Fuzzy’s Pizza. –Todd Spivak

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