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Τετάρτη, 1 Ιουνίου 2011

Omnomnom Nama

                               I had been meaning to go to Nama, a Chinese restaurant in the suburbs of Athens, for quite some time now. So when the opportunity arose through Groupon (a site offering great discount coupons on restaurants etc.) I jumped at it and booked a table for me and my companion this past Friday.

                               We decided to go via subway, since the distance from the Chalandri metro station to the restaurant seemed quite small on the map. Unfortunately, either we were completely disorientated and lost, or the distance was in fact rather large. At least the way we went. After plenty of bickering, swearing, trying (and failing) to find a satelite GPS signal, slushing through puddles and sludge (oh, my poor silver pumps!!), we finally arrived. By the way, if you're expecting to go for a drink or a coffee before or after your meal, you had better be equipped with a proper means of transport (ie CAR, or at least bike) since there is nothing of the sort within short walking distance.

                               From the outside this place certainly didn't look as posh as I'd been led to believe. Although once we stepped inside, I felt redeemed. There was a little aquarium by the door with tiny rainbow fish (so cute!). Red as a colour dominated in the decor (mind you, doesn't it always in these Chinese places?). There was a Sushi bar in the right-hand corner and poshly set tables through-out the about 90 square metre dining area.
Initially, we were shoved in a corner by the opaque windows, even though the place was empty! Suffice it to say I wasn't happy. And when I'm not happy.. Well, things rarely stay that way! The end result was we were moved to a lovely little round table in the middle of the room and handed the origami-style menus. Success! I must say though, I got more than a little confused by the oblong multi-fold menu. After navigating through it, we decided to get the Hot & Sour Soup and the Shao Mai as appetizers and the Noodle Combination plate, plus Curry Fried Rice with Chicken for mains.


Hot and Sour Soup
First came the soup in an antique bowl with one of those amazing Chinese ceramic spoons, you know, the slightly thick ones that make you want to keep sipping at them just in case there's something left in there. The soup was quite simply mind-blowing. I honestly don't know how else to put it. Wonderfully thick and spicy, with tiny pieces of chicken, fresh spring onions and greens and a strong taste of soysauce and ginger. Amazing. We were squabbling over the last few slurps, I can tell you!

Shao Mai and Soy Sauce
As we were finishing off the soup, the waitress (who was very sweet and helpful when we were being decisively indecisive and annoying with the menus) brought the Shao Mai. I don't pretend to be any kind of expert on Asian cuisine, but from what I gather, Shao Mai (or Shumai, Siumai, Siomay and other names) are essentially Pork Dumplings: sliced or minced pork (minced in this case) wrapped in a wonton exterior and then steamed or fried. Ours were steamed. I must say, I was expecting something... more. Maybe it was the sharpness of the soup, but the dumplings seemed rather bland.

Shao Mai

The same, unfortunately, must be said for our main courses. However, that was our own fault. You see, we failed to realise at the time that what we were actually ordering was not a main course, but a side dish, something to accompany the other, tangy, spicy flavours in your main dish. So it was deservedly not as pompous as we'd have liked. That being said, both the Noodle Combination (with fat noodles and chicken, beef and pork) and the Curry Fried Rice were decidedly high quality. I suppose we had just been totally spoilt by that phenomenal soup, and everything then on didn't live up to our expectations.

Noodles Combination

Curry Fried Rice with Chicken

However, I wouldn't fear. Judging from the soup, our co-diners at other tables and what they ordered, and even from what friends have told me in the past, this place has some pretty gob-smacking dishes. The question is simply choosing and combining properly (which is where we obviously went wrong).  Memo to me: Make better choices next time! The good (and exciting) thing, is that Nama offers a Sunday Buffet with over 30 (!) different dishes for 25 euros per person, so you can try and try again to your hearts content! The moment we go (soon I hope!) expect a full food review with recommendations etc. So please stay tuned! :)

In a nutshell:
  • Do you get your money's worth?: Weeeell, it is slightly on the pricey side, as expected of exotic cuisine, and, let's face it, it's the suburbs. Think 25-30 euros per person minimum. BUT, they do come out with some pretty great offers, like the Groupon one we used (ie pay 10euros and then get anything off the menu from then on half-price). So keep your eyes peeled!
  • Is it worth it?: Given there definitely aren't all that many good quality Chinese restaurants in Athens (which also serve sushi!) I'd say yes, it is worth it, especially if you have a car.
  • Will I go again?: Of course! That soup is most definitely worth a second (third, fourth, fifth..!) try and I still have the Buffet to go to!

Special Offers:
  • Sunday Buffet: Every Sunday, 12.30-16.00, all you can eat from over 30 different dishes (including Sushi!). Price: 25 euros per person.
  • Groupon : Check the site regularly for good offers on this (and other) places.

    2 σχόλια:

    César González Zamora είπε...

    I'm wondering why they didn't suggest you to order main dishes if they saw you only orderer side dishes and appetizers.

    Em M είπε...

    @Cesar, I know. We wondered that too. The silly thing was, by the time we realised we were already eating it! So it would've taken ages to order something extra. :S Pity.

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