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January 15, 2015

The Nu Nu

Holidays are a time of glory. Summer holidays especially so. If only time could be spun back to the days of being in school and the delight of enjoying an almost complete summer free of schedules and all obligations on your time other than long days spent at the beach, in the pool or running under sprinklers. A diet of frozen ice blocks, flavoured and vividly coloured, that paint your tongue and make fingers sticky. Flaky skin that seems to take up residence right on the tip of your nose and the centre of your forehead. Nights with the scent of smokey charcoal and sometimes burnt meat hanging heavy in the still warm air. 


Those two-and-a-bit months worth of carefree days may not be a fixture in this adult life but during the one or two weeks surrounding Christmas and the new year, life adopts a gentler pace. For me that means no work, no meetings, no deadlines. I'm woken up by the sun that streams in through the small slit between my window sill and blinds, or when the morning gets too unbearably hot to continue lying in my bed without getting up to turn on the air conditioning. My days are mostly empty pages, my only commitments being the beach and leisurely catch ups with friends. It's during these days I get to enjoy weekday brunches and lunches at caf├ęs and restaurants I've been longing to tick off my never ending list. And for one particular restaurant, my visit has been a long time coming. 


There once was on Bulwer Street, a restaurant by the name of Nahm Thai. I'd heard people speak highly of the menu and the food. The breakfast was amazing, I was told. I simply had to try it for myself. Then away Nahm Thai went and in its place was Nunam. Like a chrysalis to a butterfly, all that was good about Nahm Thai evolved into making something great in Nunam. The same love and same passion combined with new tastes.


For the final weekday of my holidays I knew I had to make that tick against Nunam and it had to be for its famed breakfast. I knew already of some of their breakfast dishes and came intending to order their sticky black rice. The description of the dish made my taste buds tingle. That morning my taste buds had other ideas and told me savoury was the order of the day. Breaking the fast with my friend Kelly from Beauty Bites, we took in the impressive fit out and styling of the venue. Exposed brick and gleaming bare wood floors. Funky light fittings and pops of bright colour. This is how you do industrial chic. 


If you're coming to Nunam you have to do it right and order one of their Asian flavoured dishes. You are doing yourself a disservice if you don't. With such a unique breakfast menu, don't come here wanting to eat your standard poached eggs with buttered toast. Son-in-law eggs. Congee. Sticky black rice. Lap cheong. Roam to a place slightly beyond the Perth inner city and let the food take you away.


Though dismayed that my senses had disobeyed me and taken me off my planned route of sticky black rice, I found contentment in ordering the son-in-law eggs. Kelly went for the traditional Asian comfort food dish of congee, though I had a feeling it would be quite unlike the congee of any traditions.


The curiously named son-in-law eggs is a very simple dish but made so much better by the caramelization and crunch to the outside of the eggs which comes from deep frying the egg quickly. It's absolutely perfect when you combine that crunchy exterior with a soft gooey yolk. Usually made with a boiled egg, Nunam serves theirs up as two poached eggs, still receiving the deep fry treatment, atop a crispy coconut rice cake. Wedges of grilled watermelon and some plump seared scallops add to the party, garnished with sliced chilli, fried onion and coriander leaves.


Yes, the yolks oozed soft and gooey. Yes, the egg was crunchy the outside. The sweetness of the watermelon matched with the sweetness of the scallops, and a little bit of everything together was the way to do it. I had only a minor dislike of this dish and that was the underside of my rice cake seemed to  have spent just a little too long cooking as it was quite hard rather than being happily crunchy and I thought the sauce dressing of the dish was a little on the salty side. It tasted to me as though it was made using fish sauce and fish sauce can be quite salty and for me, the sauce was slightly unbalanced with the saltiness being the overriding flavour. 


Kelly's congee came out and was finished at the table with a dollop of hollandaise sauce and crispy bacon pieces. Floating in the congee were very silky looking 63 degree eggs. The colour of the dish was a gorgeous sunshine yellow. Congee is not something I particularly enjoy and for me, this would never have been a choice. I did try a spoon of it though as I was curious how their congee would taste and how it may deviate from the often bland congees that follow a more traditional recipe. To look at, it's definitely a more soupy variety of congee than I am used to seeing in addition to the sunny hue that it's wearing. Taste wise, the soup is flavourful though not overly rich which I think is ideal for a breakfast congee. I'm sure the yolks of the 63 degree eggs and the creamy hollandaise sauce added a further dimension to the soup however I tried it prior to it all being mixed together.


If I was disappointed to see the end of my holidays, this breakfast at Nunam certainly lifted my spirits. The menu is creative and imaginative and is actually executed well. It's not just a mixture of different ingredients and techniques just for the sake of doing so, but done to deliver a dish that is attractive to your mind, your eyes and your stomach. I will be returning to stake my claim on the sticky black rice.


Nunam (Nahm Thai) on Urbanspoon

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