October 18, 2016

Eat + Drink Here Now: Nomica

by Patrick
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All photos by Patrick Lu

Nomica is a new restaurant in San Francisco that offers a modern take on Japanese food and drinks. It was opened about a month ago, by the same team who brought Sushi Ran to Sausalito.

I’ve been to Nomica several times, and so far, I haven’t had to wait for a seat since I like to sit at the bar. If you’re going with a party of three or less, I definitely recommend doing this.

I first heard about Nomica through Nathan Maxwell Cann, one of my favorite bartenders, who took on the role of bar manager there. Nathan previously worked at SRO, a small craft cocktail bar that never serves the same drink twice. His new position at Nomica offers him a chance to be more focused. It’s exciting to see his enthusiasm growing for sake and shochu, especially awamori, made from black koji and Thai indica rice in Okinawa.

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Nomica’s cocktail menu offers something for everyone. Pictured below is the Stray Cat Rock – named after an obscure series of 1970s Japanese movies – made with a shiitake-infused cognac, that’s a trip for anyone who likes mushrooms. It’s savory, boozy, and has a salt and rosemary garnish to bring out the flavors even deeper.

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Nomica has many types of sakes – from wild and fruity unpasteurized namas to delicate daiginjos and ginjos to woodsy, savory sakes – that all which pair well with food. I highly recommend trying different sakes, instead of wine, with the dishes at Nomica. For example you can pair the Karaage Chicken (Japanese fried chicken) with the Amabuki Junmai Ginjo Nama, which is made with strawberry yeast and has a tart fruitiness that cuts through the fatty, oily chicken. Or, try it with the Kiminoi Shuzo Yamahai Junmai Ginjo, which brings more umami and a hint of smokiness to the chicken.

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The Seaweed starter is the embodiment of Nomica’s food. It’s different than any other seaweed salad I’ve had before. There are several types of seaweed in this salad, offering a variety of textures and subtle flavors. The pickled beets are tart and tender and the thinly sliced radish are crunchy up front, but give way quickly. A creamy pinenut butter brings all the ingredients together, while offering another source of crunch. The combination of earthy, creamy, sour flavors, and the interplay of texture that evolves as you chew truly hits it out of the park. I can’t get enough of this salad!

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It’s hard to think of anything more comforting than Nomica’s Laminated Brioche, made with shiitake and koji. It’s crispy on the outside, and has the texture of a warm cinnamon bun in the middle. It’s accompanied with a whip made out of beef and egg yolk from a Jidori, a Japanese variety of chicken that offers a creamy, tart, savory spread for the bread. Again, this is another dish with an interplay of temperature, texture, and flavor.

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The Grilled Fish is a piece of salmon, briefly cooked on a binchotan (charcoal) grill and coated with a vegetable-ash that gives the soft, delicate fish a very slight crunch and saltiness. This homey, comforting dish is accompanied with mushrooms and grilled cabbage.

Other standouts on Nomica’s menu are the Chicken & Waffle, served with matcha butter and truffle maple, Marinated Salmon Belly, and their daily sashimi offerings. You also must try the Coconut Parfait. Really, you must.

While a visit to Nomica does command a high price tag, the combination of its convenient location, innovative bar program, and incredibly well-executed cuisine makes it definitely worth it.

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NOMICA
2223 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
T: 415.655.3280

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