Nama Nama

August 24, 2012 at 11:07 pm (Japanese, Melbourne CBD, Victoria)

As a big fan of Izakaya Den, I had to check out Simon Denton, Miyuki Nakahara and Takashi Omi’s new cafe venture.  Located on the corner of Spring St and Flinders Lane, Nama Nama is ideally situated to cater for the CBD business lunch crowd and for the weekend lunch crowd also, as it was full by the time S, Auntie and I arrived at 1pm on Saturday.

The modern interior is sleek and minimalistic, furnished with tables fashioned from Asahi beer crates, with canary yellow benchtops to inject some colour into an otherwise understated scheme.  In terms of seating options, there are tables outside for soaking up the afternoon sun, bar seating and low tables with cute little stools inside, as a well as a private room in the back.

True to its name (literally translated as “fresh fresh”), Nama Nama serves simple, fresh food.  First order of business is the udon; thick noodles, made in-house in a three-hour process that involves the chefs kneading the dough with their feet in the traditional manner.  Served in a dark, dashi-based Kanto-style broth, there are four to choose from.  Auntie’s udon came topped with tender slabs of roast pork, spinach and quail egg.  I had the wagyuu beef udon, with spinach, shallot and onion, which added a lovely sweetness to the soup.  The noodles are everything they’re cracked up to be.

Bento boxes seemed to be even more popular than the udon.  You can construct your own bento box by selecting one option from each of five categories; salad, raw style, rice’n’roll friends, Japanese specialty and a main with rice, pickles and treats, served in a gorgeous bamboo box.  Join the bento club and you get $1 off your meal, with the option of taking your box away and returning it on your next visit.  There’s a huge variety of interesting options, displayed in a glass cabinet at the counter.  S went all out with pork char-siew, crumbed scallops with mustard mayo, an ox tongue rice paper roll, rare roast beef and a salad of greens and tofu.  A great way of selecting a well-balanced meal 😛

Curious-sounding Nama katsu buns are super cute; similar to the pressed white-bread sandwiches you can get at Japanese ‘combini’ (think un-toasted jaffle), these little buns are filled with a crumbed pattie (pork, prawn or vegetable), a steamed egg and sweet tonkatsu sauce.  The pattie was a bit soggy but tasty nonetheless.

Nori rolls are either rolled to order or, for take away, wrapped in a crispy nori wrapper, onigiri-style.  These aren’t your average sushi rolls; with combinations like yuzu salmon, mayo and choi sum, prawn and cod roe mayonnaise, and teriyaki eel and egg at $4 or less a roll, you can afford to go a bit gourmet.

Four desserts are available.  S was super excited to see wagashi on the menu and, needless to say, the tiny, delicate parcel of mochi and bean paste was delicious.  The yuzu tea cake was a bit dry; probably would have gone well with some green tea 😛  I had a craving for pudding; a smooth, creamy, steamed custard, served chilled with caramel sauce (like Japanese creme caramel).

Simple, tasty food with quite a range of options makes Nama Nama a great destination for a quick lunch.  I’m also curious to try their breakfast bentou and check out the upstairs bar sometime.

 
Nama Nama on Urbanspoon
 

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