Address: 2491 Mission St. at 23rd, The Mission, SF
Phone Number: (415) 681-7150
Cuisine: Japanese, Izakaya
Date Last Visited: May 4, 2011
Dining Partner: @nom_nom_nom_nom and @JunBelen
I love eating out with my foodie friends. I met Cristina aka Twinsy (@nom_nom_nom_nom) and Jun (@JunBelen) at a dinner I organized last summer at Attic. We've been culinarily conversing ever since over Twitter and FB. It's great to have friends who have the same interests as you do.
We met for dinner on Wednesday at Nombe, a Japanese Izakaya restaurant that Jun and I have been wanting to try. Twinsy adores Nombe, so it wasn't hard to convince her to come. =) So on that hot day, we headed to Nombe and made ourselves at home at the bar. There were tables open, but sometimes you have more fun at the bar...today was a perfect example. It's quite rare that I blog within two days of a visit, but this place is so good that I just had to.
Honey Sauce, Serrano, Cilantro
These were brought out first and I was glad since I heard so much about them. Everything about these wings was just right from the sweet of the honey and heat from the chilies. The sauce sitting at the bottom of the bowl was good enough to dip anything into. Delicious.
I swear, chicken thighs and chicken skin are my favorite parts of the bird. Full of fat and flavor. Not worrying about calories? Here you go.
Grilled Fried Tofu
During happy hour, the "Otsumami" (snacks) portion of the menu are half off. I love tofu and this fit the bill. I love the generous helping of bonito flakes on top.
Pork belly get in my belly! I don't know exactly what they did to the meat before grilling it, but damn, it's good. The outside is a little crispy, but the layers of fat and meet inside were so succulent. Give me rice with this and I'll be happy!
Fried Bacon-Wrapped Eggs
Scotch eggs are basically an egg, wrapped or covered in meat product, dipped in batter, and fried. Here they took a quail egg, wrapped it in bacon, covered it with panko and deep fried it. I could have eated half a dozen by myself. I wish I took a pic of Cristina holding one that she bit in half because the yolk and bacon looked so pretty together.
Soy Sauce Grilled Rice Balls
I had to have my rice and these were very tasty. They are very simple - formed rice triangles with a little soy on the outside are grilled just enough to get a little toasted flavor. They are great to dip in the sauces from the meats.
Japanese Fried Chicken
I love kara-age. Again, very simple presentation of cut up pieces of chicken that are battered and fried and topped with Japanese seasoning.
Spicy Grilled Tripe
I saved the best for last and what possibly made the three of us fall head over heels in love with Nombe.
I grew up with it, so I love it. The tripe at Nombe is braised in a very flavorful concoction to the point of heavenly tenderness. THEN they grill it to add another level of smokey flavor. Tripe does have its own distinct flavor. I mean, it's the cow's stomach, for the gooodness sakes, but it's a flavor that I actually enjoy. Everything about this bowl was amazing. The sauce the tripe sat in was good enough for just pouring over rice and eating as was. The tripe was soft and had great umami. It was braised enough for the color to change to a deep brown. Tripe is usually a bland beige color. The vegetation on top added nice freshness and even the avocado complemented very well. You just have to try this dish.
Confession: we liked it so much that we ordered another bowl. Yeah.
The whole experience was just wonderful. My two great companions and I were welcomed by the staff, our bartender (from TX), Gil (co-owner and sake sommelier), and Mari (co-owner and chef). They took the time to talk to us and let us know what was up in Japan, with sake, SF neighborhoods...etc. etc. etc. Great conversation, booze (the three of us shared a pitcher of Sapporo - $10 during happy hour - and shared a sake toast with Gil - UPDATE from @Nombe Tweet to Twinsy - what we had with Gil: "10,000 ostentations" is Kubota Manjyu by Asahiyama Brewery in Niigata!), fantastic food (oh motsu), and interesting dessert!
I don't have a picture because I got excited, but we were brought some housemade ice cream - a shichimi chocolate ice cream and a green tea ice cream dotted with hazelnuts. Shichimi is a seasoning blend that can consist of dried red chile peppers, Sichuan pepper, and seaweed. While it was indeed tasty, the spice may have been a bit too much for me. The green tea hazelnut was my favorite of the two. It was simple and a perfect way to end the meal.
If you are in the neighborhood, please check out Nombe. The staff is so friendly and are very knowledgable of their products. I have never met a "sake sommelier" and I am glad Gil is there. Him and Mari make a great husband-wife-restauranteur-team. Check out their sake list HERE. Quite impressive. They close at 10:00 during the week, but at 1:00am on Friday and Saturday in case you have a midnight craving for chicken livers. Call it Japanese tapas or even pulutan, just eat, drink, and be merry! We all need it every once in a while, right?!
Domo arigato to Mari, Gil, and everyone at Nombe!
PS: Sorry for the picture quality. I used my camera phone. Honestly, these days, I don't even carry around my point and shoot anymore. Hmmm, I wonder why that it. Anywho!