Words and Images by Luke Williams (@stanleydru)
I like to think I have sufficiently munched my way around Leeds and I do not think there are many places which I have yet to try, however, it is always lush to find a hidden gem that has slipped my grasp and can blow my socks off instantly, and Nam Song did just that.
Nam Song is an all-day all-night coffee shop/bar/ restaurant, which was brought to life by some lovely folk who travelled and fell in love with Vietnam. They loved the vibrant atmosphere, the people, the cuisine and the legendary Phin filter coffee so much so that they brought the concept back to their founding city of Sheffield, then opened in Leeds, and I’m so glad that they did.
The restaurant certainly creates a punch when you arrive, with bright orange walls, pop posters and coloured lanterns in all shapes and sizes adorning the ceilings, visually it is a really lovely concept. I also noticed the music strumming in the background, which was a bit of 70s rock and roll, unusually it did not feel out of place at all, I sort of imagined that I was a backpacker back in the day, hungry and ready to enjoy some cosy Vietnamese cuisine.
When choosing a table, we had the option to sit ‘normally’ (table and chairs) or to sit on the floor (sat on authentic cushions around a table), so we obviously opted for the latter, I mean, table and chairs are so overrated! So, we hunkered down with a couple of cold beers and it felt amazing.
With our beers in hand and cosy on the cushion seats, I felt instantly relaxed. I lost the rigid posture you tend to adopt sitting on chairs and I noticed that other people around me (who also opted for the floor choice) were sipping drinks, eating, laughing and sharing stories together, it was then I really understood the Nam Song vibe; it felt communal, honest, travelled and chilled and I was HERE for it.
The staff were incredibly friendly and knowledgeable and after barely any deliberation, (we took the lead from the lovely waiter), we opted for a starter of bread griddled with chilli oil, salt and herbs, summer rolls and spring rolls- it was all mouth-wateringly fantastic (I am literally drooling at the thought of it all again). We enjoyed the springs rolls so much that we ordered another portion to come with our mains (which was ridiculous since they were large portions), but it was worth the punishment for the delicious texture and flavour.
For our main we enjoyed the Cà Ri Chay, with succulent butternut squash, sweet potato, and Kaffir Lime Leaf Coconut Curry, served over com tam broken rice, which was phenomenal. I literally could not fault a single thing. I can honestly say I enjoyed every mouthful, even though I was close to bursting.
Nam Song is somewhere I want to bring my family and friends, somewhere I can grab an hour catching up, sat in a cosy environment, and eating hearty delicious food, sipping a coffee, or maybe one of their delicious Coconut Daiquiris. Yep, even their cocktails are yummy (I’d also recommend the Dark & Stormy Mekhong and the Ha Long Bae) to be honest, I recommend you try it all.