It’s probably a good thing the owners of NÔM Deli didn’t opt for a translation when choosing their name.
Rather than the charmingly onomatopoeic Vietnamese word, NÔM in English means ‘salad’ or ‘a type of script’ according to the restaurant’s website. Neither exactly set the pulse racing. Luckily the pleasures offered by Vietnam’s cuisine, healthy yet packed with flavour, translate a little more easily.
And with only one or two places to try dishes such as cuon and Bánh mì in Leeds prior to its arrival this summer, NÔM is a fresh and vibrant addition to the city centre’s food scene.
Little Oliver pops in not long after the weekday lunch-time rush, the bright green frontage on Great George Street just a stone’s throw from Leeds General Infirmary.
Resisting the urge to fill the place with ornaments and artwork to reinforce its Vietnamese credentials, its owners have decorated simply but have a big window at the front that lets in plenty of light.
With limited opening hours and not many places to sit down, it looks like the target market is punters looking for something a bit different as they stop in for lunch. Certainly, the photos of the food staring down from the wall look mighty enticing.
An encouraging sign about the quality of the food came straight after walking in. A couple of foodies are tucking in on the other side of the restaurant, one holding a plastic container up to his face to fully absorb the aroma.
The food certainly didn’t disappoint when we tried it. Summer rolls, or ‘cuon’, are made of translucent rice paper wrapped around marinated BBQ pork, rice vermicelli, pickles, carrots, coriander and lettuce, which combine to great effect.
A hoisin duck baguette, filled with a moist soy duck that contrasts nicely with the crunchy salad, uses crunchy bread and comes with optional extra chilli sauce which brought some extra colour to Little Oliver’s cheeks on the walk back to YEP Towers.
The main event is a special from the blackboard, with Vietnamese spring rolls and pork patties on a bed of vermicelli and salad.
The spring rolls, crunchy and filled with vegetables and minced pork, crumble up over the bed underneath and there’s a thin, tangy, broth-like sauce with a superb flavour that’s hard to identify. Something as healthy as this frankly has no business being this tasty, and the fact the spring rolls and pork have been warmed up before service having been made earlier in the day doesn’t detract from the flavour.
Owner Anh, from Guiseley, is very friendly and happy to talk about her first ever business. Service isn’t at express pace as she is doing it all herself, though she gets someone in to help at busy times.
With a bill, including a latte from Bradford-based Limini and a cup of green tea, coming in at under £18 for two people, you could nip in for lunch without feeling guilty.
Healthy, flavoursome and easy on the wallet, if more places opened up like this in Leeds Little Oliver certainly wouldn’t be sorry.