Monday, July 11, 2016

Authentic Vietnamese casual dining at Annam Noodle Bar

The portal to a Vietnamese casual dining experience is in Metro Manila. Located in the Eastwood area, Annam Noodle Bar (Annam, for short) is right in the hustle and bustle of the residential and commercial area.

Annam's origins are in Singapore (surprisingly!) where it is called Namnam Noodle Bar, after its owner Chef Nam Q Nguyen or Chef Nam. Here in Manila, known as Annam, the noodle bar's concept is based on the original Namnam in Singapore -- trendy Vietnamese cuisine. Annam is also the first franchise outlet, a clear sign of confidence that it will appeal to Filipino foodies.

Just looking around Annam, it was not hard to notice the merging of the old-world concept and the new. I learned this was done on purpose by the interior designers. The counters, where orders were being taken and prepared, looked somewhat like our old carinderia-style eateries in downtown Manila with food displayed behind glass. Even the tables were placed close to each other to give that tight, communal seating feel.

Food is displayed behind glass, typical of old-style Vietnamese food stores

Rows of spices and an old neon sign reminiscent of how advertising used to be in the 60s and 70s

And yet as I looked around at the decor, I saw the modernity in the lighting and decor. Industrial-looking light fixtures, beautiful murals on walls, and a giant TV screen on one wall, with what seemed like a Vietnamese documentary on loop, adorned the place.

A mix of the old-world and the modern world
Annam is a health-conscious person's kind of cuisine. A lot of the dishes combine ginger, cilantro, star arise, lime, cloves and cinnamon - spices that are known to have some medicinal benefits. A huge plus is their NO MSG policy in all their dishes.

I was so happy to see a mommy and beauty blogger friend, Shen. She has been so busy with mommyhood that I haven't seen her in a while. We took a table beside other bloggers and chose our dinner.

It was a good decision to order different dishes and share among ourselves. I was actually relieved I did not have to eat one whole dish by myself since I try to limit my dinner portions already and I wanted to try out as many dishes as I could. Here are the dishes we ordered:

Small Plates - These are dishes served in small portions. Perfect as appetizers or for those with small appetites.

A must try - Crispy Imperial Rolls, PhP 200

Caramelised Chicken Wings with Shrimp Paste, PhP 200

Green Papaya Salad with Beef Jerky, fresh herbs and peanuts, PhP 250

Hanoi Pho - A collection of rice flour noodles (called pho in Vietnamese) with intense broth boiled over 24 hours, garnished with fresh herbs and spring onions.

Pho Australian Beef Steak Slices, PhP 320

Viet Desserts - Favorite Vietnamese desserts, both hot and cold. The two that we tried below are popular must-try's. Watch out when biting into the Crispy Fried Banana. It is quite hot on the inside but definitely a yummy treat.

Crispy Fried Banana with Coconut Sauce and Sesame Seeds, PhP 180

Chilled Dried Longan, Lotus Seeds,
Water Chestnut, and Seaweed Dessert, PhP 180

Besides these 2 categories of dishes, they still have 2 others:

1. Banh Mi (or Viet sandwiches), usually toasted baguettes stuffed with savory meats, chicken pate, mayonnaise, hot chili peppers, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber, and fresh cilantro.

2. Other Noodles - Other classic Vietnamese noodle recipes from Southern and Central Vietnam

Don't forget to try their Viet Coffee Ca Phe. Viet coffee is dark roasted and brewed using top-grade coffee beans. I would have loved to try their coffee but I do not take coffee after noon (it keeps me awake). Just a note for caffeine-sensitive people -- Viet coffee is VERY STRONG. I think it is even stronger than our local barako coffee so be forewarned, haha!

You cannot miss their unique beverage concoctions either. You can have Iced Soda Tamarind Drink with Peanut & Sesame Seeds, Freshly Pressed Sugarcane Juice with Kaffir Lime Leaves, Lychee-Pandan Iced Tea, Pineapple-Coconut Lime Iced Tea, Lemongrass-Ginger Iced Tea, or Mekong Fresh Young Coconut.

And there's more to love. There are value meals at different times of the day.

From 10AM to 2PM, there is a value lunch set (for a limited time only!)

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From 2-5PM, it is caphe (break) time with a Banh Mi and Dessert at lower prices.

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About Chef Nam

Chef Nam's story is quite unique. His first 7 years of life were spent in Saigon but his family had to escape to Denmark in 1979 during the Vietnam War. Despite growing up in Scandinavia, his parents kept their Vietnamese traditions, culture and food.

Chef Nam

Chef Nam began his culinary journey at the Copenhagen Culinary Institute. He joined the Grand Hotel in Oslo, Norway in 1997. He then moved to Michelin-star Le Canard Oslo. Two years later, Chef Nam joined New York’s premier Scandinavian restaurant, Aquavit, before he transferred to The Lighthouse, a concept in Singapore by the Les Amis Group, where he honed his fine-dining French cuisine. During his tenure from 2000 to 2002, Chef Nam picked up a Rising Chef of 2002 award at the World Gourmet Summit that year. His other culinary experiences include Raffles Hotel International in London and Bali’s The Legian Hotel. His last work experience before putting up Namnam Noodle Bar was with the award-winning luxury hotel, The Sukhothai Bangkok as Executive Chef.

Annam is located at Unit 1880-4 Ground Floor, 1880 Building, Eastwood Ave., Eastwood City, Libis. By end of 2016, we should be seeing another Annam outlet in the Resorts World Manila area.

Find Annam online here:
Facebook Page:
Instagram: @AnnamNoodleBar

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