“Possibly the best Cheapeats meal we have had,” offered my husband about our dinner at new Filipino restaurant Nanam.
If you love fresh flavours, interesting food combinations and generous portions beautifully presented, all at reasonable prices, then book now for dinner at Nanam. Yes, you will need to reserve. Word about the fabulous food at this new restaurant has spread, and even on a wet and cold weeknight the place was full.
Not having tried Filipino food before, we had no preconceived notions of what to expect. We knew that there was a Spanish influence but that was about the extent of it.
We arrived early at 6pm and our party of four grabbed a free table. But what to order? The friendly staff are happy to inform and advise. We learnt that Filipino cuisine has influences not only from Spain but from Asia, and as we discovered, in combinations that were new to us.
The menu is divided into four sections: AYO (assemble your own); Main Meals; Sides and Dessert. We opted to try two AYO dishes and three mains, plus two sides, all to share.
The TacoPao (sticky pulled pork, Nanam buns and condiments $12) arrived along with the Adobo Croquetteas (pulled lamb shoulder with potato in a croquette, with a creme fraiche dip $10). We dived in. The TaoPao is justly one of the most popular items on the menu. The freshly made soft Nanam buns were nestled in a bamboo steamer basket, and when we opened the lid were surprised to see that they were coloured bright pink – from beet juice we were told. The sticky pulled pork was soft and tender, and it was the condiments that pushed this simple dish to the next level. Chopped peanuts, pickled ginger, pickled shredded carrot and pork crackling added acidity and crunch to counterpoint the richness and pillowy softness of the buns and pork. I think you can see where this review is going – even reminiscing about the food is making my tastebuds water.
The Croquettas were a simple croquette of soft pulled lamb shoulder and mashed potato with a crunchy coating, and again it was the creme fraiche with vietnamese mint dip that made the tastebuds sing. It was good that we were served four of each of these first dishes so that we had one item each. All too often restaurants serve these shared dishes in odd numbers that don’t match up with the number of diners, which I find totally frustrating.
The main meals arrived in quick succession: Palayan Rice (Asian style seafood rice with Asian vegetables $16); Relyenong Squid (squid stuffed with a homemade sausage mixture and served with a vegetable pesto $18) and Roast Chicken Sinigang (half roast chicken in pieces served with a grilled eggplant salsa and watercress puree $22).
All the main meals were generous portions. The Palayan Rice was my daughter’s favourite. Very flavourful fried rice with a hint of lemongrass, with pieces of seafood and a small amount of vegetables. Even peeled broad beans!
The baby squids were stuffed with a sausage mixture not unlike chorizo. This had an unusual accompaniment of tomatoes, baby onions, ashes and horseradish leaf pesto to add more flavour to the dish.
We loved the roast chicken, which was well cooked but not dry. The four pieces came coated in a tamarind spice and were served on a watercress puree, accompanied by a grilled eggplant salsa. Apparently this dish is traditionally served with liquid in the Philippines, but Nanam has put their own twist on this dish. Again it was an unusual and fabulous flavour combination.
The main meals are heavily skewed in favour of protein, so we had also ordered two vegetable sides: Broccoli ($9) and Sweet Corn ($9). The broccoli dish was stunning. Pieces of broccoli with slices of Asian mushrooms, garlic and cashew nuts, all in a dark soy-style sauce. The sweet corn pieces were served with bay leaf butter and smoked sea salt. Nothing boring about these vegetables!
We literally ate this meal without saying a word, other than “delicious, yum and pass me that dish”. If we had had the slightest bit of room to eat anything more, then we would have tried one of the interesting desserts. I am not usually a fan of Asian desserts, but the fusion style of Nanam’s desserts sound intriguing: Turon – Crispy caramelised banana parfait, jackfruit gel and Chocnut soil is one of three desserts on offer.
Nanam is Filipino for “delicious, delectable, scrumptious, luscious”. A perfect description. Book now!