[Oakland, Fruitvale] Nyum Bai- Cambodian eats


#1

We grabbed lunch at the newly opened Nyum Bai in Fruitvale Village, across the street from the Fruitvale Bart. Their new space is smallish inside- about 20 seats total across a few tables and counters. There is an outdoor seating area outside the front door that sits another ~20.


Kuri mon:

Chicken curry with kroeung paste, coconut milk. The curry was deeply aromatic from presumably the galangal, kaffir lime leaves and turmeric inside the kroeung paste. It was mildly hot. The sweet potatoes and the rice did a good job mopping up the curry. I liked this dish a lot. One minor quibble was that the chicken was a little on the dry side.


Kuy teav phnom penh:

Nyum Bai’s version did not lean heavily on salt to enhance the flavor of the broth, which was welcoming. Base was pork, and a few dashes of the hot chili oil on the table (or upon request), along with the fried garlic gave the rich broth the heat and the aroma. Came with chunks of minced pork, shrimps, bean sprouts and parsley.


Ngoum:

Plenty of fragrance from the basil, mint and lime dressing, and textural crunch provided by the red bell pepper and cucumbers. A few pieces of thai chilis supplied a welcoming heat. The purple cabbage supplied the rest. All the herbs and vegetables were super fresh.


Ginger fried chicken:

Fried chicken with a salty sauce that had a moderate ginger flavor, which should go well with the beers once they became available. Perhaps the kitchen can even dial the ginger taste up a notch to further differentiate against saucy fried chicken from other countries.


3 of the dishes on the menu- lort cha, bok la-hong, nom pang + soup combo were out that day.

All the dishes were done carefully and seemingly from scratch. The wings were intentionally boldly-seasoned, and the flavors of the rest of the dishes were restrained and balanced. The new kitchen allows the menu to expand to include a larger range of dishes, even if not all of them were available that day. I’d love to try out more of them, especially those that are only offered during dinner.

The area around Fruitvale is getting more interesting food-wise in the past 12 months- fellow La Cocina grad Reem’s, Temple Club, and now Nyum Bai.

Interesting bathroom wallpaper that marries Khmer and Oakland:


Nyum Bai cambodian pop-up at mission pie SF
(Therese) #2

I saw on the old thread that you also got the Kampot peppercorn fried chicken wings at the old location. I neglected to report on them but they were one of my favorite dishes last year–very juicy chicken, rendered skin, great flavor from the pepper. I hope the sauced ginger version holds up.


#3

I like the kampot peppercorn fried chicken better. I generally prefer ‘dry’ fried chicken versus saucy ones. Since I am also a pepper-head who chews on whole peppercorns on occasion as if they are snacks, I liked that kampot pepper on the chicken.

Curious about these other dishes written up by Eater:
To that end, Nyum Bai’s menu ranges from night market staples, like that revelatory bowl of Kuy Teav Phnom Penh, to special ceremonial dishes like kuri moan. Now, just a couple years after La Cocina lured her into the program by asking her to cater an internal meeting, she’s read to show off her two signature dishes: prahok ktiss, a common dip for fresh veggies made from pork belly, fermented fish, coconut milk; and machoo kroeung soup, made with beef sauteed in lemongrass paste, tamarind, Thai eggplant, and a whole roasted jalapeño.


#4

Totally forgot to mention- Nieves Cinco de Mayo is right next door to Nyum Bai. Desserts! Icecreams, mangolada, juice…


#5

I wonder when that review was written or if the chef changed her recipe. From the menu:

“MACHOO KROEUNG SOUP
spare ribs marinated in fragrant kroeung paste with water spinach, eggplants, roasted bird eye chilies, curry leaves, prahok and tamarind in a beef broth”

Food looks good.
http://www.nyumbai.com/food-menu/


(Therese) #6


I enjoyed my first trip here even more than my couple visits to the Emeryville version. The extended menu is quite nice, and the space, while small is welcoming and the servers were doing a good job keeping up with the packed house, less than a week from opening.
I had the koh–a caramelized pork belly cooked in coconut milk, dark soy, and palm sugar. It was extremely addictive–very rich and porky with a nice note of peppercorn to add a contrasting bite. The egg was cooked perfectly and the pork was tender and delicious. It was perfect over the rice served with it, and though I was fairly full from an order of the naim chien chrouk (egg rolls with pork and taro) I ate the whole bowl. I’ll definitely be back to make my way through the rest of the menu.


#7

Is the koh kinda like a salty-sweet-peppery dish?

How was the naim chien chrouk?


#8

Prahok kites: Normally i don’t like chewing on crunchy raw hard veggies like cabbages. But in this case, the crunchy texture paired very well with the savory and aromatic mashed pork dip. Made for a addictive snack.

Koh: Just like @tm.tm said, a very good dish. Contrasting sweet and savory. Well balanced flavors. Just wish there were a little more of each components. A bit like the dtom kiem pork belly dish at Hawker Fare, but I think made a little more refined.

Machoo kroeung soup: That’s my favorite of the meal. Nuanced soup with a slight coolness from the tamarind and kroeung paste with a little taste infused by the curry leaves. Slight heat from the chilis. Excellent soup. The crunchy and hard texture of dried curry leaves didn’t quite work for me though.

Kuri saramann: Decent shor rib curry. Curry on the sweet side. The other dishes worked better for me though. I thought the peanuts used in the curry was rancid, though.

They were definitely going for the well-prepared-small-portion angle. Restaurant was full. Kitchen was pretty slow. Give them time to work out the logistics.

The menu from that day.


#9

Luke Tsai in SF Magazine:

excerpt:

At the new incarnation of Nyum Bai, lunch is mostly focused on the street food dishes Yun specialized in when she was constrained to a food-court-kiosk kitchen. Dinnertime, however, is an opportunity to experience the kind of quintessential home-style Cambodian meal Yun describes (minus the part where you sit on the floor). The aforementioned pork dip has a Bolo­gnese-like texture and arrives at the table warm, exceedingly fragrant, and accompanied by raw and steamed vegetables. The amok, a fish custard that’s steamed inside a banana leaf, is delicate and rich. The koh, a saucy caramelized-pork-belly dish, is cooked until the meat is so tender you can cut it with a spoon. And the machoo kroeung, a sparerib soup that Yun most associates with her childhood, is an intense pop of flavors—tangy, spicy, funky, and pleasantly bitter. Fittingly for a restaurant whose name translates as “eat rice,” everything goes so well with steamed jasmine rice that you should order one or two extra rounds.


#10

Yum!

I haven’t had the amok. I ate the other dishes profiled by Luke during lunch. Looking at the menus upthread, it looks like Yun has made those dishes available during lunch as well.

But I think there are still dishes that are evening only. I need to make it back to Nyum Bai soon.


#11

Luke on his twitter:

Luke Tsai
@theluketsai
For my money, Nyum Bai’s new Fruitvale location is the most exciting new restaurant to open so far this year.


#12

We went for lunch earlier this month and had the amok amongst other dishes. It was delicious, quite rich - almost a chawanmushi like texture but with the bits and flavor of fish interspersed within. If you are in a hurry, note - they warned us it would take a while to prepare.


#13

I haven’t been to other new Oakland restaurants, but Nyum Bai certainly is serving up some really good food…!


#14

Did the amok fill up the whole height of the container? Or did they have filler at the bottom? If the whole thing was amok, that’s a lot of amok…!

BTW, welcome to the board! Glad to have you join the discussions- curious how did you find the site? A bunch of board participants wrote a little blurb about themselves in the following, feel free to do the same!


#15

@sck - no filler, and as you mention, it was quite a lot of amok! Though we wanted to, we weren’t able to finish the whole thing in that one sitting.

Thanks for the warm welcome! I was a long-time Chowhound lurker and very (very!) occasional poster, but it got a bit tedious to keep up with the site activity after a few of the redesigns. I had been looking for a replacement for Bay Area food discussion since then and think I saw a mention on one of the other food sites (i.e., Berkeleyside, East Bay Express, Eater), which brought me here. Glad to see there are a lot of familiar handles posting both here and on Food Talk Central from the earlier Chowhound days.


(Gary Soup) #16

Isn’t Powderface Beignets right there, too?