NOM is not boastful, it is not loud and it is not flashy; it is modest, and it is humble. And it is a great deal more than what I was expecting.
The sashimi of yellow tail only cost $6.50 but the serving size explains why. Each slice is a small bite full but the freshness of the fish really brings out the sweetness and the taste of the yellow tail. Along with the shallots, grated ginger and soy sauce, this dish is delicious.
The restaurant is situated on a small street behind Oxford Street, dark, except for the bright red lights of NOM. The tiny shop barely sits 20, but the tables are well spaced and you never feel overcrowded.
Chef Kimiko has previously worked at Toriciya but opened NOM around 9 months ago. The atmospheres of the two restaurants are quite different, where Toriciya gives off the vibe of a traditional Japanese restaurant; NOM is more homely and quaint.
This difference also correlates in the style of their food. NOM serves up dishes that taste of a Japanese home and as my friend put it, the food is filled with kimochi – feeling. The standard of food is by no means any less than that of a traditional Japanese restaurant, the style is simply different.
A standard salad of shaved cabbages, tomatoes, cucumbers, topped with dried seasoned baby sardines, is dressed lightly in a citrus dressing. The bits of small fish add a delicate saltiness and crunch to the fresh vegetables.
|Yellow tail sashimi|
The minced tuna came with wasabi and nori seaweed that was used for wrapping. Grab a bit of tuna, place it on the nori, spread a bit of wasabi and dip it in the soy sauce. It makes for a delicious, crisp bite.
|Minced tuna with nori|
There is something about Japanese grilled fish that makes it one of my favourites. It could be the oily fish they use, or the overly charred crispy skin, or the simplicity of the dish but I always seem to order it. Squeeze a bit of the lemon over the fish, then drizzle some soy sauce over the grated radish and eat it with flakes of the beautifully charred fish.
Though the fish we got was slightly over charred, it was still good. The grated radish on the side was served at our request. It adds a more refreshing taste and breaks up the meaty fish.
The chicken nonkotsu came in a baby serving of six pieces. They were deliciously crunchy and well seasoned. Perfect with beer.
|Nonkotsu, chicken cartilage|
Unagi refers to the Japanese eel, which are freshwater eels. Anago is a saltwater conger eel and it is not as oily or meaty compared to unagi. It was sweet and ever so slightly salty.
|Anago, conger eel|
A large portion of chicken karaage glides pass our table to the one adjacent. The waiter informs us that the one that just passed is a double serving and we decide that of course we have to have the same thing. It is crunchy and juicy, perfectly seasoned with a hint of ginger. As full as we were, we polished off the chicken while savouring every bite of the golden nuggets.
|Chicken karaage, two servings|
NOM also has a selection of sakes that they serve chilled, room temperature or hot. Let the waiter know whether you prefer sweeter styles or dryer styles and she is happy to suggest a few. If you are unsure of how best to have it, they can also suggest a drinking temperature. The taste of the sake can vary greatly depending on the drinking temperature, so it is always interesting to try both hot and cold to compare.
Out of the four or five that we tried, I lost count somewhere along the way, Komagura really stood out for me. It is crisp and a dryer style, but there is also a hint of sweetness to it too.
At NOM, each dish does not cost much but each dish is also fairly small. However, for those that like trying a variety of foods, this allows you to do so, and at NOM, you want to try everything. The restaurant does not seat many, so make sure to book ahead of time. Sit, soak in your surroundings, enjoy the food, and sample a variety of sake. Then when you are leaving with a smile, and Kimiko waves you off from the front door, you just know you will be back before long.