(photo credit: BENNY ADAM)
If you walk up the northern edge of Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, you can't miss the fully-packed new place, hot in more than one way. Nam opened its gates a few months ago, as a Thai eatery which serves Thai street food for fair prices. When we got to the restaurant, a smiling hostess welcomed us. We later learned that this was one of the most notable features of the place - everyone is smiling, and the service is amazing.
We sat down and started with cocktails, recommended by our very friendly waiter - a Mai Thai and a watermelon cocktail. Both made us feel as if we were lying on a hammock in Koh Samui. Well, almost.
We planned on starting with a papaya salad, a must-eat at a Thai restaurant, but one of the evening specials was the Yam Ma Muang, a fresh green mango salad with lemongrass, red onions, coriander, mint, cashew, chili peppers, fish sauce and fried fish filets. We couldn't resist, and ordered it instead, and it was a good choice - the perfect dish to start the meal with, with its sweet, sour and very spicy flavors. When you go to Nam, or any other Thai place for that matter, you have to get ready for some spiciness, and the next dish was hot, so hot. We took the Nam Tok, seared slices of beef mixed with red onions, mint, lemon, coriander and chili. Oh, the chili, this one was too hot for me. I am sorry to say I barely handled the spiciness, but couldn't stop myself from having more of this yummy dish. The waiter brought along sticky rice and some cucumbers and cabbage to ease our burning mouths.
The first courses on the menu tempted us so much, we decided on ordering a few, and settled for only one main course. The Yam Won San salad is a lighter-flavors dish - delicate bean noodles with red and green onions, celery, cherry tomatoes, cabbage, coriander, peanuts and baby shrimp. The highlight of the meal was, no doubt, the Mo Tot Kataim, crispy slices of pork and fried garlic, with sweet and sour hot sauce. This dish was so good, I kept thinking about when will be the next time I could come here to eat it again. And again. And again.
The one main course we took was Pella Pad Prik Pau, slices of crispy fish filet, cashews, white onions, red chili, sweet dry chili, celery, anise, carrots and kaffir lime, served with rice. This great street food dish were all fairly priced, and very generous. We felt that we had ordered more than we could handle. But as is well known, there is a different stomach for desserts, so we asked for the coconut malabi with mango cream, which took Thailand and mixed it up with hot steamy Tel Aviv in a sweet and stylish way.
We could not end this Thai experience without the dessert we set our minds on the minute we took the first look at the menu - a beautiful traditional Thai dessert – a bowl of tapioca and coconut milk, with crushed ice and fresh fruits. Wow! The tiny tapioca pearls, along with the icy, fresh and sweet flavors were the perfect way to finish the meal.
The dishes were fresh yet hot, in a way that challenged our taste buds, but were well worth the challenge. The richness of flavors blew our minds, and we loved every minute of it. Nam nam nam.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.