Nanam have a special knack for making you feel relaxed and at ease, despite the exotic-looking menu that could be alienating for some diners.
According to the eatery's website, Nanam is Filipino for the following: 'delicious, delectable, scrumptious and luscious'. Having eaten there twice in the span of one week, I can testify that all of these adjectives are accurate and true. My first visit was for a long, leisurely Sunday lunch. The restaurant was almost empty and we had no problem scoring a table for four. The second time was a different story—two of us arrived at 6pm on a Tuesday, a quiet night at most establishments, but the restaurant was already bustling, with several large tables reserved. We were offered a seat at the bar, which proved to be an enjoyable spot for casual chats with the staff and optimal proximity for wine top-ups.
Nanam, run by Jess Granada and Andrew Soriano, serves Filipino food with a twist. Andrew does the magic in the kitchen, while Jess manages the floor. Jess is a gracious and attentive hostess who patiently explains each dish as it's brought to the table, sharing snippets of history from her homeland. I love his part of the experience, something normally reserved for fine dining. The rest of the staff are equally as knowledgeable and the service is professional and genuinely friendly. They have a special knack for making you feel relaxed and at ease, despite the exotic-looking menu that could be alienating for some diners.
And speaking of the menu, it is regularly updated, refreshing, unique and very reasonably priced. The food is intended for sharing and is split into four categories: assemble-your-own starters, pica-pica dishes, main meals and sides. We indulged in two assemble-your-own dishes: sisig and tacopao. Sisig is a standout dish for me — a rich stew of chicken hearts that is accompanied by a water chestnut salsa and lettuce leaves. I have loved feasting upon chicken hearts from a young age, but they can often turn tough and sinewy in the hands an unskilled cook. Not at Nanam. Here they are beautifully tender, with the slightest hint of chewiness that adds an interesting texture to the dish. Scoop it up with the lettuce, top with water chestnut and you have a beautiful balance of cooling freshness to cut through the richness of the spicy sauce. The tacopao are deconstructed pork pal that are attractive and fun to eat. The open buns are doughy but feather-light, coloured with the vibrant maroon of beetroot juice. Stuff them with the sweet, sticky pulled pork cheek, pickles and toasted peanuts and slurp up the tasty juices as they threaten to drip all over the table. Delicious.
The mains are equally as tasty. The relyenong squid stuffed with spicy, zesty pork sausage meat is particularly flavourful. The generous serving of half a roast chicken is cooked in a marinate inspired by sinigang, a traditional Filipino soup made with tamarind. The meat is juicy, with a sour tang and is set off beautifully by a grilled eggplant salsa and watercress puree. If you desire something richer, then you can't go past the pork belly—succulent fatty meat capped with crispy skin and served on an earthy artichoke puree. I can also recommend the sides to balance the meat-rich menu. A bowl of charred broccoli, cashew nuts and crunchy ear fungus, cooked in soy sauce and butter ought to do the trick. Dessert is difficult to fit in, but the sweet corn ice-cream eclair, sprinkled with aged cheddar, is a sweet-and-salty treat difficult to resist.
I could continue describing each bite of every dish in detail, Nanam's food is that delicious and memorable. But, you'll just have to try it for yourself. Just make sure to get there nice and early—they only take bookings for tables of six plus and are fast becoming a very popular foodie haunt.