Disclaimer: This is my review of the food served during my visit. Keep in mind that taste may change over time, depending on the restaurant’s consistency. Just keep munching~
The famed Singapore-based franchise has only arrived in Jakarta (for the first time) for some days when I came for my visit, but it was a full house with a waiting line. I simply don’t understand how words can travel so fast in the Indonesian community, especially in PIK, where it’s studded with new shophouses on every corner everyday.
Yet I’m excited to finally have a good Viet eatery made accessible to everyone here. There’s a new branch of Do An in the area as well, next to Harbour Town, but you can pick up a lot of MSG from just a slurp, and I bet you’ve had better-prepared servings from other Do An branches in the city.
NamNam Noodle Bar takes pride in their quick service, affordable price, and *NO MSG* offerings. Started by world-renowned Chef Nam (Nam Quoc Nguyen) in 2012, who by then has been exposed to various cultures in the world, NamNam is the result of his culinary exploits around the globe, only to come back to the old world. Amazingly, he has only spent 7 years during his childhood in his hometown, Saigon. The Viet roots are certainly well-preserved, as you’ll taste in every bowl served at NamNam.
Under their Small Plates menu, we opted for the crispy fried prawn & chicken rolls (IDR 35,000).
I wasn’t expecting the skin to be this crispy though, as I had just recovered from an illness that week. But I love the texture of the lump inside. They were cooked with loads of oils and oozed juices with every bite.
For the Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwiches), we tried out the fried catfish with turmeric (IDR 49,000).
It was a portion that can easily be a grown man’s full meal, and the bread was unexpectedly non-boring (is that even a word people use?). It’s lightly toasted till there’s crust everywhere you bite, and to say that the filling was a generous size is an understatement. But as you can see here, the catfish itself came small and few, so you can’t see much of it among the veggies.
However, I won’t give these sandwiches another try, at least, any time in the near future. I don’t know about you, but the time I was here it was extremely salty. Despite the crusty bread and crunchiness of the fill, it was so salty my eyes shook the moment it reaches my tongue.
Finally, this is my own bowl of pho kampong chicken (IDR 58,000) with soft boiled egg as additional topping (+IDR 8,000). Now this is the closest portion size so far to what I was normally served with back at the Viet shophouses in SF, with Viet aunties/uncles cooking up beef organs in the backdrop. I was pleasantly surprised with just how much chicken is in my soup (hoards of ’em), and trust me, what you see here isn’t just the soup making it look like it’s a lot. It’s really A LOT … one of the rare times in Indonesia I actually don’t finish my food. Speaking of soup, you can tell the broth was prepared ahead of time, as the whole stock tasted rich, hearty, and flavorful. Couldn’t be further from the ones you get that tasted bland and filled with oils and shards of spices that doesn’t blend well.
I will come back again for another casual night out in the area, especially now when the hype is moving on toward other nearby restaurants that are newer and hipper. Only the test of time can tell whether the first NamNam in Indonesia will stay consistent in their service, but for now, it’s a great place to just fill your carb cravings without guilt.
Now let’s turn the tables to you: Have you tried NamNam out? What do you think of the food?
NamNam Noodle Bar
Pantai Indah Kapuk
Bukit Golf Mediterania
Jl. Marina Indah Raya
Ruko Crown Golf Blok D No. 21 & 23
Jakarta Utara 14470
+62 (0)21 2942 4884
Follow @namnamnoodlebar on Instagram
M – S 11:00am – 11:00pm