Over the past three decades, Vietnamese cuisine has become a mainstream staple in the Denver area — to the point where diners are now comfortable with many of the basic ingredients, flavor combinations and dishes. That's what Loc Nguyen, owner of Nom Nom Asian Grill, is counting on. Nom Nom is a fast-casual eatery at 13700 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora (right across from the CU Anschutz Medical Center) that opened earlier this month; it allows customers to mix and match proteins, sauces and toppings to create their own bowls, rice-paper rolls and banh mi sandwiches.
While the concept is modern, the flavors hew close to traditional Vietnamese standards, with a few other Asian influences to round out the sauces and condiments. Rice-paper rolls are made with crisp, fresh vegetables and either lemongrass pork, soy-garlic steak, five-spice chicken or fried tofu, in much the same way that Vietnamese spring rolls are constructed. The same proteins can be loaded onto rice, noodle or salad bowls, or onto a French baguette for a banh mi sandwich that always begins with a smear of butter and pate (unless you opt out of those). Sides include lotus chips, a cup of pho broth, meatballs and egg rolls, and to drink, there's Vietnamese coffee and an assortment of tropical juice combinations like lychee mint, strawberry longan or honeydew basil.
The dinner menu adds pho (brisket, chicken or meatball) and com ga roti — that's marinated, crispy-skinned chicken served with rice and dipping sauce. The kitchen also runs weekly specials on Fridays with fun combos like fish-sauce fried chicken wings with pandan waffles or Korean roti tacos. And 95 percent of the offerings are gluten-free, Nguyen points out.
Nom Nom is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day except Sunday, when the kitchen closes at 8 p.m.