I scan the line of food trucks parked along Dallas Arts District's new Klyde Warren Park looking for the Nammi truck with its mascot, a chubby little boy in a conical hat, painted on its side. I'm desperate for my banh mi fix.
Nammi is the creation of two unlikely food truck vendors, Teena Nguyen and Gary Torres. Both were architects working at the same Dallas firm. "We enjoyed it but felt it wasn't really giving us the sense of gratification we wanted. During this time, the food truck scene in L.A. was really booming. Gourmet food being served roadside was so exciting. We wanted to bring the same excitement to the Dallas scene," explained Nguyen.
Nammi dishes up Vietnamese fusion cuisine with a limited menu starring banh mi. Their name, Nammi, is a fusion of two words: the 'nam' in Vietnam and the 'mi' in banh mi.
Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich influenced by that country's history as a French colony. Nammi's banh mi starts with crusty French bread layered with a generous portion of seasoned meat (pork, chicken, beef, or tofu). It's topped with layers of sliced cucumber, sweet pickled daikon, carrot, cilantro, and jalapenos. It's a jumble of textures and flavors -- crispy and crunchy; sweet and tangy -- and pure pleasure for the tastebuds.
Nguyen learned to make banh mi sandwiches from her mother. "Our banh mi are served hot versus the cold deli style typically found in the traditional shops," Nguyen said, adding that Nammi's version is also larger than what's usually found in Vietnamese stores.
In addition to banh mi sandwiches, Nammi serves Vietnamese tacos (banh mi sandwich ingredients on a soft corn tortilla) and rice bowls. Their signature drink, basil mint lemonade, is perfect on hot Dallas summer days.
Nguyen and Torres launched their first food truck May 2011, adding a second food truck in March 2012. "The best part of operating a truck in Dallas by far is our customers. We've met so many amazing people. Some have now become our most close and dearest friends," said Nguyen.
When asked about the worst part of the Dallas food truck business, Nguyen responded, "The summers are brutal. 110 degrees outside translates into 125 degrees inside the truck. It's something we have never really gotten used to."
You can find Nammi at Dallas-area food festivals, on local college campuses, and in the Arts District with their schedule posted each week on the Nammi website.
- Food & Cooking