Nama Nama

New Japanese cafe, Nama Nama, opened in late June on the corner of Flinders Lane and Spring Street, taking over the space that used to be Verge. It hasn’t been open for long, but has already attracted a lot of interest.

Owned by the team behind Izakaya Den (Simon Denton, Miyuki Nakahara and Takashi Omi), Nama Nama is sleek and shiny. They open for breakfast and lunch, and the udon noodles are made in house and kneaded by feet.

Errr. Wait. What was that last one?

Apparently at Nama Nama, the udon are feet kneaded BUT it’s not quite how it sounds: the dough is wrapped in plastic and clean socks are put on for the kneading process.

Hazzie organised a group to visit the other weekend for an early lunch – including Wince, Bryan and Jo. Nama Nama is not a large place, but we were fortunate to be able to claim a table at the back, where we all squished around the yellow table on little stools.

Nama Nama are open for breakfast and lunch. Before 11.30am, one of the breakfast options is a breakfast bento, which comes with fish, rice, pickles, egg and fresh fruit ($13 or $15 with miso).

There’s also coffee ($4), toast, fresh fruit, or more interestingly: Nama katsu buns, with a choice of pork ($7.50), prawn ($8.50) or broccoli and potato ($7.50).

Udon is available after 11.30am, so we ordered a round of Nama katsu buns while we waited for the time to tick over.

Alastair and I shared one of the pork ones. The buns are made from a very fluffy style white bread and contain a crumbed pork pattie, tonkatsu sauce and a steamed egg.

It’s pretty tasty, but a bit expensive at $7.50.

Not too long afterwards, our udon orders arrived. All udons are $15 (except for the plain one, which is $10) and come in a Kanto style broth. Alastair and I shared the waygu beef udon with onion and spinach.

Haz and Gaz had the pork one, which came with spinach and a quail egg.

And Bryan and Jo shared the tempura prawn and vegetable.

The verdict on the udon? Really good. The udon was nicely thick and had a fantastic chewy, slippery quality. In addition, the Kanto style broth had a good depth of flavour – salty, but not too much.

We also shared a bento box ($18 eat in). With the bentos there are five compartments, with three choices available for each section.

Ours had:
salad – greens and tofu
raw style – ocean trout sashimi
rice ‘n roll friends: prawn and wasabi inside out roll
Japanese specialty: Sansho pepper chicken
main with rice and pickles: pork char-siew.

Miso soup is an extra $2 with bento.

The stuff in the bento was pretty good, though some of the things were (out of the fridge) cold. It’s not a very filling bento though, particularly if you don’t eat all the rice. We left most of it behind – it was a bit dry (and cold). To be completely fair, the coldness of the rice was probably because we ate it last after all the other sections, but the dryness was disappointing.

If you don’t want to customise your own bento, or just plain can’t be bothered, you can also select a “surprise bento”.

Nama Nama also have a small selection of desserts – naturally, we ordered one of each.

Desserts available are: yuzu tea cake ($5), milk and caramel Japanese pudding ($6), Bonsoy soy milk Japanese pudding ($5), chocolate shochu brulee ($9) and wagashi – mochi flower treat ($4).

I really liked the Japanese puddings, particularly the soy milk one, and the little wagashi. However, the tea cake was quite dry.

The brulee was also good and chocolatey, though a bit expensive.

I thought Nama Nama was nice, but as I said in my weekly post, I probably wouldn’t go back there unless I was in the area. The udon *was* really good, but I’d rather head to Akachochin or Gypsy & Pig for a Japanese lunch.

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Nama Nama
Ground floor, 31 Spring Street
Phone: 03 9639 9500
Open: Monday – Friday: 7AM – 5PM. Saturday: 8AM – 5PM.

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