CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Nam Song

Back Buzz - May 29, 2017

pumping heartNam Song Vietnamese Coffee House, 215-219 Fulwood Road, Broomhill, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

I have to admit that sometimes I get tired of writing about coffee houses. I suppose this is because I've been writing Double Shot Buzz columns for twenty years now, and so many coffee houses are -- to put it bluntly -- not that much different from other coffee houses. This was pretty much the same reason why I stopped writing music reviews years ago for a monthly Long Beach paper, back when the music scene was huge and I was attending several gigs a week. Some bands were very bad and some were very good and exciting; but probably the middle 80% all sounded like each other. What was there really to say about them? So I quit and started playing in my own band.

I mean, I still drink coffee and have no plans to start my own coffee house, but I've been feeling a bit stale lately in my reviews. This is why I was pretty excited when I read about a Vietnamese coffee house that has just opened in Broomhill. I was even more interested after I learned it had great coffee, and after both my vegetarian friend Mike and my carnivorous friend Scott both gave their rave reviews on both the coffee and the báhn mì sandwiches. I don't go out to eat very often these days, mostly because I can't afford it; but I decided I simply had to splurge for once.

So on a recent Sunday lunchtime my friend Carmel and I took a stroll over to Broomhill. The cafe is situated at the bottom of Crookes Road, and it's extremely difficult to miss with its bright orange exterior. In fact, it has a bright orange interior as well, and the furnishings all emphasize orange. There are two overlooking rooms, one with chairs and tables and the other with raised floor seating for people like me who like to cross their legs when they eat. In deference to Carmel we sat at one of the tables by the window and, tempted to keep our sunglasses on, perused the intensely orange menu.

The coffee menu features traditional Vietnamese phin filter coffee made with Vietnamese-grown coffee roasted by Frazer's in Sheffield. Also on the coffee menu is batch brew filter coffee made with Monsoon Malabar roasted by Union Roasters of Sheffield. There are also a few espresso drinks. As it was the smallest drink on the menu I decided to try my first flat white, brewed with Gajah Mountain coffee from Indonesia and roasted by Union Roasters of Sheffield. And it was very nicely done indeed: smooth and somewhat milky but sort of heavenly, and served in, of course, an orange cup and saucer. Carmel's Vietnamese green tea was served in a massive orange café au lait cup, and the giant teabag was encased in some sort of industrial-strength fabric. Carmel really wanted to take it home to make several more cups of tea.

The cafe serves both báhn mì and pho, or noodle soup. We both went for a small báhn mì, which ended up requiring a whole lot of decisions on our part, as you must choose from a list of fillings, and then select one spread, four salads, and one sauce. I went for the coconut curry tofu filling with mushroom pate spread, coriander, jalapeños, red cabbage, spring onion, and sriracha chilli sauce. Carmel chose the lemongrass chicken with mushroom pate spread, coriander, jalapeños, carrot, baby gem lettuce, and sweet chilli sauce. Both our sandwiches were ridiculously sloppy, especially mine. We managed to cut our baguettes into two to make consumption a bit easier, but as the baguettes themselves were nice and chewy it was still quite a messy sticky job. The sandwiches were really nice, but I certainly wouldn't want to try to order one to take away and eat for my lunch in a public garden. You really need to be near a pile of napkins and somewhere to wash your hands afterwards.

Our sandwiches came with a choice of prawn crackers or sweet chilli crisps. As I was having a vegan meal I decided to stick to the theme and have the crisps. I didn't really need the crisps as well, but then I'm a bit of a lightweight when it comes to eating.

Apparently Nam Song translates as "Five Rivers", which is exactly what Sheffield has. The owner is a 23-year-old Sheffield native, Jim Rose, who travelled through Asia with his girlfriend and was especially impressed with Vietnam. The café has the appropriate nickname "The Orange Coffee Shop", and there's a reason for the colour scheme. It's in deference to all the Vietnamese victims affected by Agent Orange, the herbicide widely dumped on victims in the Vietnam War. In fact 10% of all proceeds from the coffee shop are going to both Agent Orange victims and various charities at home. So it's all the more reason to visit.

By 1:00 the place had completely filled up, so it's already obviously very popular. Located near the Fox and Duck pub and across the road from a Fanoush falafel bar, it seems like the perfect location in this student-dense neighbourhood. I trust it will do a lot better than the rather poor (from what I've been told) Chinese restaurant that preceded it.

As Nam Song only just opened this month, for the entire month of May they've been running a special deal of £1.00 for all coffees on morning weekdays. As it was a weekend I couldn't take advantage of this; but my flat white was £2.50 which isn't too bad, and the sandwiches were £4.75. (If you're a fat bastard you can order the larger sandwich for £8.25.)

Were still a bit confused by the bottom of our receipt which read "MŎT, HAI, BA, VŎ!". When I got home and looked it up on Google Translate, I found out it means "One, two, three!" I'm still none the wiser.

Perhaps it was all just a dream.

Speaking of dreams reminds me of a very short Facebook posting session from late last year:

Where the bloody hell is my massive Dyson Hoover???? I cannot find it at all!! What is that all about!! You obviously don't Hoover enough. It was in the spare room, I was just using it the other day! Weird! Have you been robbed by an obsessive compulsive cleaner?? It was all a dream. I've had those before.