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Hai Nam restaurant, San Jose

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3005 Silver Creek Rd. Suite 172, San Jose

On my way to Saratoga, after striking out on tea leaves in Fremont, I found myself in the mini-mall at Silver Creek road, looking for Vietnamese food. It was raining and cold, so I was leaning toward soup, but made a round of the shopping center. The place that was the most popular (though it was relatively early for dinner) was Thien Long, but upon seeing their illustrated, illuminated signs I remembered Melanie Wong's recent lackluster report on their bun cha ca la vong. Other members in the strip mall are listed here, from Melanie's post.

Thien Long
3005 Silver Creek Road #138
San Jose, CA 95121
(408) 223-6188
Cash only

Other reports on food in Paloma Plaza shopping center

Fung Shui House, #126

Bun Mam Ha Tien, #192

Com Tam Long An Restaurant, #112

Hue Restaurant, #190

I decided to stop by Hai Nam, a chicken specialist that is relatively new (they still have a Grand Opening banner from September hanging out front.) Hai Nam is the Vietnamese term for Hainin chicken, and they offer that on the rice plate menu, along with some other chicken dishes.
I ordered the Nem Nuong Cuon and a Pho Ga. There were two choices for pho ga, and the one I chose had the description of combination with cutlet.What I was served was a good tasting (but not spiced) chicken broth with poached chicken breast (a bit springy, as I might expect from Hainan chicken, but skinless). The accoutrements included Thai basil and a couple sprigs of garlic chives, along with bean sprouts and jalapenos. The end result was quite subtle but nice. I took about half the soup home and it gelled up in the refrigerator, meaning it was relatively rich in gelatin. It kind of reminded me of years ago, when I went out of my way to make it to Turtle Tower before they closed in the evening (and only had the one location) to check out the pho ga everyone was talking about, but wasn't wowed because the flavors were so subtle, while I prefer bold. The nem nuong cuon were quite good, and I enjoyed the dipping sauce--more savory than sweet from fermented soybean paste and perhaps some shredded fish or chicken. And although it wasn't listed as "cha ram" it had a fried stick of eggroll wrapper inside.

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  1. Ha! So we managed to lure you to south San Jose. Glad you dipped into nem nuong territory.

    I tried Hai Nam in September a few days after it first opened. My server apologized for the scratch outs and handwritten notes on the printed menu, explaining that it was a work in progress. Here’s the opening menu,

    There was a handwritten sheet of specials too. I asked my server what they were and she said all were sold out already. So no idea about these dishes and would welcome elucidation.

    I ordered Pho Ga Xe Long Trung Non, $6.99, once I confirmed that this came with giblets and unhatched eggs as well as boneless, skin-on dark meat chicken, as shown in the link. Good job on the delicately salted chicken with firmish, barely done flesh and “crisp” non-flabby skin. Thin rice noodles were a little too soft, and the soup stock was not quite as flavorful as Turtle Tower’s. Liver, gizzard and eggs were abundant and poached carefully to not be overdone. Good enough for the price.