Viet Taam, a popular eatery in Netanya, has now expanded its premises to include a garden, making this small restaurant much bigger and able to cater to a larger clientele.
Sadly, on the day we visited, the proprietor and brains behind the project, Rabbi Jean-Pierre Fettman, found himself to be very short staffed and the food took a long time to arrive. Perhaps the reasoning is that if one waits long enough and becomes hungry enough, everything tastes great.
Presiding over the kitchen is Fettman’s Vietnamese wife, Naomi, whom he met when working in Hong Kong.
What's on the menu at Viet Taam in Israel?
The menu is the same and is not a complex document. There are two choices for starters, a soup and about five main courses. This is not such a bad thing, as one does not need to spend hours perusing a menu and wondering what on earth to choose.
We each had a different starter, one choosing spring rolls and the other pastry cigars. And my companion also decided he liked the sound of meat soup with noodles.
This was the first dish to arrive and appeared to be a consommé full of flat noodles, beef slices and a variety of vegetables (NIS 54). It had some interesting spices which we could not identify and my companion gave it a thumbs-up.
Although there was still no actual food at this point, I sipped on my glass of Mount Hermon Cabernet Sauvignon and enjoyed being in a garden with vibrant green “grass” underfoot, potted plants and some real flowers blooming near our table (NIS 25).
When the egg rolls finally arrived, they were very good. The outer skin holding the chicken and vegetable filling was a translucent glutinous wrapping made from rice paper and the filling was a mix of vegetables, vermicelli noodles and spiced chicken (NIS 29). A sweet and sour dipping sauce came with the rolls.
The cigars were filled with chopped meat, were hot and crispy, and made for a very good starter (NIS 24).
The main courses consisted of stir-fried noodles for my companion (NIS 59) and stir-fried rice for me (NIS 57). They both tasted authentic and each had a variety of meat, chicken and vegetables to enhance the flavor.
There are several new desserts available, including a lemon tart and chocolate cake, but we felt we had eaten more than enough.
On a topical note, Fettman told us that a free-trade agreement between Vietnam and Israel is due to be signed now and there will be cultural exchanges between the two countries. As someone who does kosher catering for the Vietnamese Embassy, Fettman and his restaurant will be closely involved in this diplomatic development from which both countries will benefit.
It is also worth recalling that when Menachem Begin was prime minister, he allowed Vietnamese boat people refugees to come to Israel in the late ‘70s, creating a small community, mostly in Tel-Aviv. Some of their descendants still live there in a small Vietnamese community.
Viet Taam1 Tel Chai St.,NetanyaOpen: Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m.Kashrut: Netanya Rabbinate.Glatt Kosher meat supervised by Rabbi Shlomo Machfud.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.