Why: Nom Nom set up shop a few years ago next to Regal Cinemas in downtown Vancouver. The restaurant serves some favorite Vietnamese dishes seven days a week and welcomes the whole family for lunch and dinner.
What I tried: To start, my dining companion and I ordered the fried spring rolls. We settled on the yellow curry with chicken and the pra ram with beef for our entrees and shared them. Both came with a bowl of rice. We opted to go with the medium hot level of spicy for both dishes. Nom Nom offers three different levels: mild, medium hot and very hot. I tried the saap lai cocktail, which is served with two skewered lychee fruits on top. This was a refreshing and sweet cocktail, easily repeated. My dining companion drank the Heathen Rip Porter, which he enjoyed as well.
The golden fried spring rolls were filled with a good balance of carrots, cabbage and glass noodles. Dipped in the sweet chili sauce, these were a tasty start to our meal.
Carrots, onion and potato pieces are simmered in the sweet coconut milk and turmeric of the yellow curry. The tender chicken that was added was plenty to make a meal. The “medium hot” spice of this dish translated to mild on my palate.
The pra ram is a wok dish that combines green beans, broccoli, spinach and carrots with the protein. It is topped with a peanut sauce, which, like the curry, was quite sweet. The green beans, broccoli and carrots still had a garden snap to them and the beef was lean and easy to eat. There was plenty of beef added to the dish to make it reasonable to share.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Appetizers include pot stickers, crab puffs, Vietnamese lettuce wraps, crispy calamari and tofu fries. Among the signature dishes are the spicy sausage, which is stuffed with lemongrass, garlic and shallots and served with sticky rice and a special jaew sauce; and the gluten-free Nom Nom plate filled with cucumber, tomato slices and diner’s choice of tofu, lemongrass chicken, grilled pork or grilled beef, doused in a fish sauce. Pho, tom yum soup, green papaya salad, classic noodle and fried rice dishes are available, as is green curry and red curry. Crispy duck curry, lad nah and em kao are offered as specialty options.
Atmosphere: The restaurant is bright and welcoming with large glass windows that allow ample natural light into the space. The high open ceiling is painted gray and the floor is sealed concrete, giving the atmosphere an industrial vibe. Orange is used throughout the decor and lighting consists of attractive open metal shade pendants. Tables and chairs are arranged to seat two to eight diners and metal patio furniture will seat a moderate crowd on the patio overlooking the walkway to the theater and C Street. There are a handful of stools at the bar for those older than 21.
Other observations: The atmosphere is comfortable and casual. The food is tasty. The service needs some polish. The servers were not rude, but I would not say they were friendly. The bartender was helpful and knowledgeable about drink and food options and very attentive. Although my dining companion and I did not sit at the bar, he was more attentive than our server. Outside patio seating is available.
Cost: Appetizers are $5 to $10. House signature dishes are $10 to $16. Soup costs $9 and $10. Salads range from $9 to $17. Noodle, curry, fried rice, and wok dishes cost $10.50 with tofu, chicken, or vegetables, $12.50 for beef, $13.50 for shrimp, and $15.50 for seafood. Specialty dishes cost $15 to $19. Sides are $2, $3, and $5. Wine, beer, and cocktails are priced comparable with other establishments.
Dining out guide
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: 801 C St., Vancouver.
Contact: 360-718-7360 or nomnomnw.com
Health score: Nom Nom received a scored of 5 on May 25, 2018. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.