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Nam Nam – My search for a perfect Banh Mi uncovered so much more

If you’re even a casual reader of my blog I’m sure you’re no stranger to my love for all things sandwiches, and of course my passionate love affair with perhaps my favorite sandwich of all time, the Banh Mi. I certainly make no attempt to hide it.

A while ago a new Vietnamese restaurant opened in St. Matthews and I received many emails from my awesome readers telling me I should make a b-line to Nam Nam Cafe and try their Banh Mi. I love my readers almost as much as I love my sandwiches (I really do love me some sandwiches) so I couldn’t wait to give this new place a try. It took me a while to get there but one hungry afternoon I found myself in Nam Nam’s neighborhood and stopped in for a bite.

I ordered, of course, a Banh Mi, more specifically, the Vietnamese Special($6.50), the one I almost always order my first time out. I think it’s the pork pate that gets me every time.

I ordered the sandwich to go, and while I waited for it to be made I got comfy on a bench in the very small, yet extraordinarily cute restaurant. I have to say, I did wait quite some time for my sandwich. I’m going to estimate 12-ish minutes. That may not sound like a long time, but the restaurant was completely empty, and I began to wonder if there was a Banh Mi tragedy in the back that I was unaware of. Please, I thought, don’t let it be the pate.

Wait, no wait, pork tragedy or no, I have to say honestly, this is the best Banh Mi I’ve had in Louisville to date. The size of the sandwich was generous. The amount and quality of pork pate that they pile on this bad boy was fantastic. The bread was crunchy yet chewy. And to top it all off, the seasoning was perfect. It wasn’t too sweet (some restaurants make their Banh Mi’s very sweet), it wasn’t too spicy, it was fantastic.

A few weeks went by after my initial visit and my husband and I finally found the time to get back and try a few more dishes. We strolled in just before noon on a Saturday and were the only ones in the restaurant, again. This quickly changed, however, as couple after couple wandered in, and soon the place was packed.

Nick ordered the Pho($9). Just as with the Banh Mi, Pho is a good place to start when gauging a great Vietnamese joint. I chose, for the first time in a long time, something other than Pho, Bun or a Banh Mi. I chose a crepe, a Banh Xeo($8).

Nick’s Pho was delicious. He was very pleased with the quality of the broth. But that wasn’t the show stopper this trip. My crepe was.

My crepe was nothing short of fantastic. It was thin, crunchy and amazingly delicate, yet somehow it was able to contain a heaping helping of sauteed shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, onions and scallions. The crepe itself had almost a curry flavor to it. The shrimp were cooked to perfection. The pork was moist and juicy. The veggies were crisp. It came with a side of Nuoc Mam (a fantastic dipping sauce that’s sweet, acidic and savory all at once) and an herb garnish. I’m in love.

Let’s recap shall we? Nam Nam Cafe has an amazing Banh Mi, a good Pho, and a mindblowing Banh Xeo. The prices were reasonable. The location and dining room is simple yet adorable. The wait was long on both of my visits, but the service was friendly and attentive. Oh, and did I mention the crepe? Give it a try yourself. You may fall in love too.

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