A neighbourhood restaurant so good you’ll want to move into the area.
Namo is the perfect example of how a relatively small space can be perfectly utilised. Lanterns cast a warm glow over the restaurant, complementing the candlelight, and overall the décor is simple, with wooden tables and chairs. The piece de resistance is the outdoor area, which is still within the confines of the restaurant with just a roof that folds back. This makes you feel like part of the main dining room and it retains a cosy, almost romantic atmosphere. A Buddha statue with matching artwork on the wall alongside black and white prints of Vietnam finishes it off nicely.
Namo is owned by a friendly husband and wife duo who contribute to the welcoming atmosphere, making you feel a part of the community. The waiting staff are friendly and knowledgeable about the menu, offering recommendations and explaining anything you’ve not come across before. The clientele comprises a mixture of trendy locals and older regulars. It would be the ideal first date spot if you’re looking to show off your knowledge of secluded quality restaurants.
The fresh ingredients utilised at Namo, such as fish fresh from nearby Billingsgate and pak choi sourced locally from a British farmer, shine through in the quality of the dishes. For starters, the chicken satay with peanut sauce (£4.50) is excellent, three skewers of large, tender pieces of moist chicken with an incredibly good homemade peanut sauce. Also excellent is the whole soft shell crab (£4.90) in an incredibly light batter and another homemade, well seasoned sour fruit dip. However, the real highlight is the steamed stuffed baby squid with pork and prawns (£4.90). The squid is perfectly cooked, punctuated by the sweetness of the plump prawns and pork. Pickled cauliflower adds another unusual depth to each bite.
Mains are equally good. A wok fried spicy chilli beef with aubergine and cashew (£7.20) tastes different with each mouthful. In one bite the heat of the chilli adds fire to the tender chunks of beef whilst in another the sweetness and crunch of the cashew works well with the soft chunks of aubergine. Also recommended is the whole sea bass with ginger and spring onion (£9.30). Perfectly cooked so the thick white flakes come off the bone with ease, it doesn’t need sauces or accompaniments. Delicately battered monkfish with tumeric, dill and herbs comes with a tangy shrimp and peanut sauce that works incredibly well with it. Sides of vermicelli noodles, fragrant rice and pak choi aren’t afterthoughts, instead they’re as well prepared as the main dishes. Everything exceeds expectation.
If you thought it couldn’t get any better then finishing off your meal with the mango cheesecake will quickly change your mind. A creamy, rich homemade cheesecake with a crumbly biscuit base comes with slices of sweet mango and sauce with chunks of the fruit.
Playing on the independent, locally sourced angle, Namo’s wine list is supplied by local wine store Bottle Apostle with a handful of red, white, rose and sparkling bottles priced at the £12 to £18 mark. However, the real highlight of the menu is Asahi in a frozen pint glass (£3.80), a nice twist on the usual beer and a very popular choice. There are even a few cocktails, the highlight of which is the simply named Lemon Cocktail (Stoli vodka, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and lemongrass; £4.90), which tastes like a delightful fresh lemonade.
The Last Word
Namo is the kind of local restaurant that would convince you to move to an area just so you can frequent it easily. Not that desperate? Don’t get put off by the bus journey. It’s so worth it.