While a lot of the Vietnamese restaurants in the South Bay boast encyclopedic menus with catchall assortments of the country’s favorite dishes, others build their menus around particular regions’ cuisines. Hai Nam, on the other hand, a new Vietnamese restaurant in East San Jose, is centered on chicken, particularly its flagship dish, com ga hai nam (whence the name of the place is derived). Roughly 80 percent of the dishes are chicken-based, including pho ga, which is Vietnam’s chicken noodle soup, while the more common beef-based pho is nowhere to be found on the menu.

Com ga hai nam is basically steamed chicken and rice, a dish that has its origins in China. Hai Nam serves the chicken topped with basil leaves, steamed onions and fried onions. While the chicken was tasty, the side of rice was the best part of the plate. It was cooked in chicken broth, imparting a very tasty flavor ($7.99).

The dish that I recommend the highest is com ga roti. Roti is short for rotisserie chicken. The chicken is served on the plate and cut into several pieces; it is extremely flavorful and succulent, and also costs $7.99. Instead of chicken-broth rice, com ga roti comes with red rice, which as far as I could tell is cooked with ketchup, garlic and other spices. While the dish is not quite as good as the broth-based chicken, the flavors of the rotisserie chicken more than make up for the difference.

I tried one of Hai Nam’s pork dishes, com thit nuong, for $5.99, which is barbecue lemongrass pork, and was surprised at how well they also succeed at pork. The lemon-grass was mild, accenting the juicy flavors of the pork without overpowering it. This dish came with a side of plain white rice and broccoli, which was disappointing compared to flavored rice offered on the chicken plates.

I ordered a cup of iced coffee ($3), which is made with condensed milk. It was a delicious blend of bitter and creamy. Iced coffee is quickly becoming a standard for me at any Vietnamese restaurant. Hai Nam didn’t disappoint with theirs.

Hai Nam
3005 Silver Creek Road, Suite 172, San Jose