Nami restaurant review: Bold cocktails meet rich flavours
Housed in the exclusive Nobu hotel in Shoreditch, Nami serves as an extension of the hotel’s unique brand of minimalist Japanese traditionalism with contemporary luxury styling.
The restaurant describes itself as a “supper bar” serving Japanese street food, so the dining area is not so much set up for formal sit-down dinners, as for relaxed drinks and sharing plates. Nami means “wave” in Japanese, which is portrayed in the room by subtle, midnight blue lighting. The walls display projections of moving artwork that somewhat mimics the woodblock style of Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave.
Having been shown to our table, my dining partner and I immediately order a cocktail. The Nami Spritz delicately balances Sake Sadono, dry vermouth, pineapple, lemon juice, ginger ale and Prosecco. The mixture makes for a perfect palette cleanser, which is needed as the cocktail is followed up by the first of our food - a sampling plate featuring a collection of salmon sushi rolls and edamame beans.
The sushi is beautifully prepared, exceptionally fresh and bursting flavour, while the beans are a handy stomach-filler while we wait for the first true courses from the menu. My companion also asks for tap water and is served Fuji bottled water - Nami doesn’t do things by halves.
Before any more food arrives, our attentive server hands us the cocktail menu, whisking away our half-finished Nami Spritzs at the same time. They want us to try everything, he explains.
We order two Oni Negronis, a twist on the classic Negroni featuring all of its normal ingredients, with additional saki. It is the best cocktail of the evening - blending bitter Campari with sweet saki.
Shortly after the negronis are delivered, food begins to arrive in a steady stream. First, salmon tartare served in a puddle of soy sauce. Like the sushi rolls, it is fresh, delicious and is accompanied by a quinoa and mango salad. The mango is juicy, and nicely offsets the salad's savoury punch. This fairly light duo is no preparation for what is coming.
Fried fish and chips is up next, with a jalapeno sauce for dipping. The chips are 24-hour slow-cooked and dipped in Dashi soup stock (the basis for Miso soup) giving them a surprising aftertaste. The fish is fried to perfection, melting in the mouth. This is followed by a delicious smoky miso soup, which my colleague and I sip, taking a rest from the culinary barrage.
Our break does not last long, however, as next we are served juicy chicken wings and a Japanese mojito, the latter of which artfully combines nitro matcha, coconut and pineapple juice. In the spirit of full disclosure, it is around now that my companion releases his belt a few notches.
Despite this, we are unable to resist taking one of the restaurant’s signature Wagyu beef burgers, served with a runny egg, crisp coleslaw and a second serving of those slow-cooked and double-fried chips. The beef is as tender as lightly cooked fish and palate-coatingingly rich. While the Wagyu burger is the menu’s showstopper, the chicken wings are the highlight of the meal for me, with the chefs taking a staple and doing it perfectly.
By this point, we are in danger of having to be rolled home, so we retreat to the stylishly designed bar thinking we will try one short cocktail to settle our stomachs before departing. But our industrious server will hear nothing of it, and insists on delivering some of the restaurant’s dessert offerings to us at the bar.
A word of advice - if you have got this far and are considering a visit to Nami, save more room for desert than we did.
The Nami Nami, a trio of creamy choux pastry, and the Mochi - a twist on a classic, Japanese favourite - are startlingly good. So is the “Osmosis fruit salad”, which after a dinner so full of rich flavours, is welcomely healthy-tasting.
Having forced down some dessert and declined a final cocktail, we depart into the bitterly cold Shoreditch evening. Nami is certainly impressive - blending bold cocktails, with full-flavoured dishes. The restaurant’s aesthetic may be stylishly minimalist, but the blending of flavours within its menu is anything but.
Dishes are priced between £7 and £18. Nami, 10-50 Willow St, Hackney, London EC2A 4BH. london-shoreditch.nobuhotels.com/dining