Tastes of Hanoi from Nam Phuong aka why mom is mad at me
It started with an easy request; parents were in town and Mom requested pho. Since moving to Philly from NY in 2009, I have had amazing meals here with my parents every time they visit. But I had never taken them for Vietnamese food. I usually reserve that for Sunday morning hangover repair with friends. I brought the folks to Nam Phuong and we ordered a bowl of pho. Mom was happy. Noticing some of my favorite street food dishes from Hanoi on the menu, I decided to order a few other things. I have been nervous to order these dishes in Philly, thinking they couldn't even come close to the source. We were all pleasantly surprised, well I was and mom was just mad I had been holding out on her. Sorry not sorry for bringing you to Zahav, Serpico, W M Mulherin and Sons, and Kensington Quarters, mom!
Bánh cuốn is a rice flour crepe with meat and mushrooms. I had slippery versions in Hanoi, but really liked the filling at Nam Phuong. It came with a sprinkling of shallots mung bean salad, slices of meat roll, and one banh khot- or what I like to call, shrimp cupcake.
Parents had strong Vietnamese coffee, I had a Manhattan- a weird choice at a Vietnamese place perhaps, but with a request to make it not sweet, it wasn't terrible!
On the board of special, dad ordered wok fried salt and pepper soft shell crab. Nobody complained; the battered and fried pieces were splashed with a tangy shallot sauce.
Bun cha is also all over Hanoi (if I didn't already rub it in enough, I got to eat at the same bun cha spot Bourdain took Obama one week later), it is a grilled pork and noodle dish served with lettuce, basil, and nuoc cham/dipping sauce. We all liked the fatty, but not too fatty slices of pork. The broth holding the pork was not as oily as what I ate in Hanoi, though I can't decide if that's a good or bad thing. My main disappointment was that the plate did not come with spring rolls, as it always did in Hanoi. I wanted some crunch.
After the meal, I brought my parents to the fresh tofu spot they like next door for some ginger soft tofu to take back to NY.
Judging by my parent's reaction, it seems that now I am going to have to pretend Nam Phuong is closed each time my parents visit so they continue treating me to Philly's fine dining spots... don't tell them, ok?
Nam Phuong, 1100 Washington Ave, 215 468-0410