Posts Tagged ‘The Naam’

The Naam

Vegan-friendly

Cuisine: Eclectic
Tofu puffs: 2.5 out of 5 (what are tofu puffs?)
Price range: $
Times visited: More than a dozen
Location: 2724 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6K 1R1
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Contact: 604-738-7151; www.thenaam.com

The Naam

The Naam is a popular eatery in Kitsilano.

The Naam is a Vancouver institution of sorts, having served vegetarian food at its West 4th Avenue location for more than 30 years. Year after year, it garners first place for the Best Vegetarian Restaurant in the Georgia Straight‘s Golden Plates awards. At almost any time of the day, you’re likely to find a lengthy lineup winding out the doors. You can buy its much-lauded miso gravy on local grocery-store shelves. And, we’ve heard it’s the first place in Vancouver to have offered the revered Daiya non-dairy cheese as a vegan option on its menu.

And yet, the Naam is so overrated.

The Naam is not the place to go if you want to get your server’s attention for any particular reason. It’s also not the place to go if you like your food served in less than 40 minutes, or if you insist on a clean table that doesn’t have the remains of the last patron’s food on it. And while its rather extensive menus have plenty of comfort food options, the fare is generally mediocre and nothing you couldn’t easily make better at home. So what draws people to this rather grungy but perpetually cramped food spot? It seems that no matter your foodie persuasion, carnivores and veg-heads alike congregate here to hang out, chow down, and just chill. It’s a hang-out kinda place with live music in the evenings, a semi-secluded patio, and plenty of people-watching to be had. They also offer beer and wine, with several decent vegan beer options. The Naam is a place you go to catch up with friends while grazing over vittles that will likely leave you full without breaking the bank.

Like many other places that serve a cuppa brew, the Naam charges extra (60 cents extra!) for subbing soy in any hot bevvie. That’s not so cool. And while some may enjoy their large selection of cakes, pies, and other baked goods, in general the Naam’s deserts are of the kind that usually make most non-vegans cringe and wonder why the heck we’d want to give up eggs and milk. And the Thai Noodles: it’s ones of the worst dishes we have ever had the misfortune of ordering. The Naam’s idea of a “zippy sauce” tastes suspiciously like bottled ketchup. Consider yourself warned.

So what, then, do we like about the Naam? There are definitely a few redeeming choices to be had. We absolutely love their Thai Gado! It’s a massive plate of bean sprouts, roasted potatoes, and cubed tofu topped with freshly grated carrot and beet, all slathered with a tasty spicy peanut sauce and tangy tamarind sauce. We order it sans the sliced boiled egg. Then there’s the Golden Dragon Bowl. So very tasty and ridiculously filling—we dare you to finish it all in one sitting. The sesame fries with the Naam’s signature miso gravy really are something to crow about. Just keep in mind that while we’ve been told the restaurant’s gravy is vegan, the bottled stuff sold in stores contains honey. Their Naam burger platter is enough to feed three people (or two very hungry peeps). And the simple vegan Steak Platter with it’s veggie-nut patty and steamed veggies is not too bad either, though the addition of the sesame fries puts its fullness factor over the top.

So, to go or not to go is always the question for us. With better options so close by, there isn’t any particular reason we’d go out of our way to visit the Naam. If you’re not in any hurry, you don’t mind standing in line for at least 15 to 20 minutes, and you want the kind of food you’d make at home without all those annoying dishes to wash afterward, then the Naam is the place for you.