There are plenty of noodle joints in Prague but none of them are quite like Neb.O. This small place on Perlová street, between Mustek and Narodni, is easy to overlook.
This busy little restaurant is full of energy. As soon as you walk into the restaurant you see the chefs at work in the open kitchen, and despite being simple the restaurant’s design is attractive and modern – white, red and bare wood with just a few colourful posters tacked up, lit by bulbs strung across the ceiling on red cord and white candles on the windowsills. This minimalism isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, but the colour here is in the kitchen and on the plates.
There are several Thai items on the menu, which is longer in reality than it is on the website. Servings are big – too big, even – and all of the soups including Pho are available large or small. I didn’t see the large portions, but their small soups aren’t really that small.
I was more tempted by their starters than mains. On one visit, we tried a sharing plate of starters with spring rolls, fresh rolls, battered shrimp, calamari rings and hoi sin sauce, sweet chilli dip and a pot of spicy tomato and cucumber salad.
The shrimp were the most popular thing on the plate; a couple of satisfying, tender bites inside crispy batter. I’d have them again on their own. The fresh roll halves were disappointing; there were only two small shrimp in the whole thing and neither were in my half, which was mainly noodles. Everything else was average, nothing bad, but I much prefer the similar Thai starter sharing plate at Yam Yam.
There are lots of crisp salads and bright, fragrant curries. The yellow curry (Com Cari Vang) with shrimp, carrot, peppers, bamboo shoots and rice was well presented, and a big portion.
It was very mild, but still warming, and the shrimp were fresh and plentiful. (There are a few missing in this picture. I was hungry!)
On another visit, I had the wonton salad; a large, fiery bowl of warm glass noodles, cabbage, carrots and beansprouts spiced with coriander and ginger, and topped with five soft wonton dumplings with a meaty pork and basil filling. It was hot, comforting and very tasty, but the huge portion was too much.
The pad thai with beef came with the standard noodles, bean sprouts, spring onion, carrot, egg and lots of coriander and lime. The first time I tasted it was the best, but this quality doesn’t seem to be consistent. I’m guessing it’s always made by a different person.A friend told me that when she ordered it the beef smelled and tasted slightly off. That wasn’t the case the two times I tried it, though the second time it was much, much greasier (the first time it wasn’t greasy at all, which I liked.)
Veggies – It doesn’t say so on the menu, but you can get a tofu version of the pad thai and quite a few other dishes if you ask.
The homemade iced teas, especially the ginger one, are really tasty and refreshing Or at least they were on my first visit. The next time, mine was very, very sweet, even for my sweet tooth.
I’ve never got as far as dessert here, but there are some interesting-looking green pancakes filled with coconut and whipped cream on the menu which I’d like to try.
Next time, it would be enough (even for a big eater like me) to just order a “small” soup and some spring rolls, or maybe those prawn things (forgot the name and it’s not on the website, sorry) I liked so much. The main courses were all good but nothing was good enough that I’d go back to have it again, and the portions were just too big.
The city centre location makes it a good place to meet friends for a quick lunch It’s not a place where people hang around for hours – the hard wooden seats probably make sure of that. It gets busy at lunchtime, but in the evening it seems reservations aren’t that important.
Neb.O didn’t blow me away. There seem to be some major issues with consistency, too. Still, it’s something a bit different – more upscale than your usual noodle joint. I liked the funky, casual atmosphere and it’s not a bad place for lunch when you’re in the centre looking for something quick, tasty and inexpensive.