The Naam on West 4th and MacDonald, Vancouver

From being a family who usually have light breakfasts at home, we find ourselves going out for breakfasts quite a number of times lately. All this started since we first went to Bon’s Off Broadway which serves one of the best $2.95 breakfast in town.

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Frankly, Suanne and I are not big fans of breakfasts but we got to make it up to Nanzaro who was still mentioning about him missing the breakfast in Bon’s. So we woke up bright and early last weekend and went to The Naam. What we did not tell Nanzaro though is that Naam is a vegetarian restaurant.

Naam starts serving breakfast at 6AM. You might think, wow, it’s early but actually they are opened 24 hours. The Naam is located on West 4th Avenue near the intersection with Macdonald St.

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The beauty of going there early at 7AM is the quietness. The place exudes that kind of morning calmness with people enjoying a big breakfast, hot cup of coffee with a book in hand. The wooden varnished tables and casual decor adds to the charm of this place.

It was not like that for long. By 8AM, this place was absolutely buzzing with customers and getting service from the waiters is a true test of patience.

You know, you can’t just build a restaurant with these kind of ambiance these days. The total mood, character and experience we see here is built over the 40 years that The Naam had been in existence in the core of the Kitsilano neighborhood.

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The Naam has a big breakfast menu. You could probably imagine that it took us a while before we finally settle on our selection. Anyway, if you can’t read the menu above properly, click on it for a larger image.

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Hot Coffee and Hot Chocolate was $2.50 with free refills of coffee. The hot chocolate cup had a paper napkin tied to it. We were wondering why they did that because this is the first time we had seen anyone doing it. Does anyone know if there is a practical reason for this?

The hot chocolate was pretty good. It tastes like it is made with cocoa powder and is unsweetened. We like it this way but knowing Nanzaro, he hates it. To him, hot chocolate is not supposed to taste this way and it has to be sweetened like those you find in Denny’s and IHOP.

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The Naam describes themselves as a “Vancouver’s Oldest Natural Foods Restaurant”. They pride themselves as saying most of everything they serve are made in premises, using pure and fresh ingredients.

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Nanzaro opted for the Breakfast Quesadilla ($9). It has red organic corn tortillas with scrambled eggs. You can opt for tofu instead of eggs.

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You got to hand it to Naam. Their breakfasts are … pretty and looked mouth watering.

In the scrambled eggs there are raw red onions (we love it, Nanzaro hates it), cilantro, jalapenos and cheese. With the jalapeno, this tastes slightly spicy.

They have this little thing called Sambits too. It is that brownish meat looking thingy you see above.

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Here is the closer look at the Sambits. Since this is a vegetarian restaurant, I can only guess that it’s The Naam’s vegetarian version of bacon or something (although it does not resemble bacon).

Anyone know more about Sambits?

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Besides looking pretty, I want to add that The Naam’s breakfasts are huge. On hindsight, we should have shared three orders and that would have been more than enough for us light breakfast eaters.

Anyway, my order is called the Breakfast Dragon Bowl ($8.25). Instead of eggs, I thought I try their tofu version. This is great. It is a big bowl of firm tofu bits with home fries, green onion, parsley and sprinkled with Sambits (again). What spoils this for me is the red peppers, I don’t like red peppers at all.

This is served with …

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… two pieces of very good toasts. As much as I dislike grainy toasts, I make this an exception. Firstly it is toasted perfectly but what makes this stand apart from all other toasts is that it is buttered AND SPICED. We can’t really make out what it is exactly but it is some kind East Indian spice. Maybe it is cardamom.

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They also gave me Miso Gravy with my breakfast. I took a little taste and decided I don’t want it in my bowl. Miso Soup, that I could accept but I am just not used to thick miso gravy.

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Suanne decided to go with the Croissant Witch ($8). They told us that it is an excellent choice as it is their most popular breakfast item.

One thing about their home fries … they are kind of soggy and too soft for our liking. It is not bad but we are comparing to Bon’s which was perfecto.

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It is an open faced organic whole wheat croissant with cheese, scrambled eggs (or tofu if you wish) and mixed with veggie sausage.

It does look inviting doesn’t it? One thing that Suanne mentioned a few times … that their breakfast is dry’ish. As good as it looks, the taste is just ordinary. Suanne felt that between Bon’s $2.95 breakfast and the breakfast here, Bon’s is better.

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Arkensen’s breakfast choice is the breakfast special on the chalkboard called the Cheesy Scrambled Eggs with Artichoke and Tomato ($8.50). It is served with home fries and toasts too.

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I have no idea why Arkensen ordered this when he did not touch a single piece of the artichokes. Suanne and I finished that off for him. We felt that the lightly sourish and fibrous artichoke is a great idea in a breakfast plate.

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The bill was cheaper than I expected. All in all, The Naam is a good place for breakfast. Calling out the less than perfect aspect of The Naam, I would say that they are grossly understaffed and the food does not have that wow taste despite it looking absolutely gorgeous. Otherwise it is an interesting place for breakfast.

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  1. Paper napkin — a nice touch so you don’t burn your fingers on the hot cup, and the chocolate does not dribble down onto your clothes if you slosh a bit. I see on the table both turbinado raw sugar and honey. In a natural food restaurant they would not assume anyone liked things sweet, or what sweetener was preferred for your dietary preference.

    You’re lucky it was chocolate and not carob powder. Carob is often substituted for chocolate in natural food places. You can buy carob chips, etc. To me, carob is only similar to chocolate in that it is brown. I say go for the real thing.

    I would bet the spice in the bread is cardamom. My Grandma made cardamom bread for Sunday breakfast. It is really good — Suanne can look up Swedish cardamom bread recipes. You basically add ground cardamom (best ground fresh, from a spice market, not the supermarket) to the dry ingredients of a bread dough. It makes good cinnamon rolls too.

  2. Sambits are crumbled Sam’s burger patties, grilled with tamari, molasses and spices. It’s on page 3 of the menu under “Please Note” :):)

    1. Oh … duh! Thanks Adrienne.

  3. Quite interesting! I think the reason why the paper napkin is there is so that it can absorb any hot chocolate that excessively flows out when the whip cream melts. But it looks good as a decoration too :).

    Great close up shots of the food! I feel like I can touch the food right now and eat it.

  4. The Naam NEVER had enough staff and the food ALWAYS took forever to arrive.

    Having said that, that’s never deterred me from being their fan for the past 22 years !

    😀

    Glad you guys liked Naam. Truly a Kits institution.

  5. I think the bread also has fennel in it. It is delicious and they do off-sales. Just be careful as I have brought a loaf home only to find it moldy before.

  6. The Miso Gravy is great on rice! I’ve purchased many a bottle.

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