My usual sources for discovering new restaurants to visit are Just Opened London, Timeout, Emerald Street and frequent visits to my favourite food blogs. But on this occasion I took the risk of trusting Trip Advisor reviews for a restaurant my friend had discovered simply by googling ‘good sushi places in baker street’.
Knowing what cuisine we wanted and that Baker Street was the most convenient place for us to meet on a Monday night after work it seemed like a sensible decision. Despite it being “sensible” I was still wary which didn’t improve on approaching the entrance of the old arcade where Nambu-Tei hid.
Little did I know that this independent restaurant, with green carpets and yellow wallpaper would serve the most delicious Japanese food ever! Run for over twelve years by an Ishibashi couple, Nambu-Tei’s charm comes down to no frills simplicity, friendly staff and home-cooked dishes.
Presented in a WHSmith plastic wallet (I’m making an assumption here) the menu spans across pages and pages of Japanese dishes with poor English translations written underneath. As we already had some sort of idea what we wanted, we requested the help of our waitress to pick the correct dishes and order some of her recommendations.
We kicked things off with a plate of Salmon Sashimi, a Japanese delicacy consisting of very fresh raw fish served in thin slices. It was beautiful – melt in the mouth texture, you could tell it was good quality by how bright the colour of the fish was.
Served alongside the sashimi was a plate of 6 California Rolls. There was nothing over the top or fancy about these, they were simply avocado, crabmeat and cucumber rolled inside sticky sushi rice. With slightly minimal filling they weren’t as amazing as the salmon sashimi but still tasted delicious.
Next up, sticks of chicken yakitori. If you’ve read my Flesh & Buns and Sticks’n’Sushi reviews you’ll know I’m a new advocate for yakitori which meant I had to see how Nambu-Tei’s compare. Made from mirin, soy, rice wine (or sake) and sugar, the yakitori glaze coats the chicken skewers which when cooked marinades the meat and leaves a sticky residue on the plate. The grilled chicken remains moist covered in a sweet and very distinct sauce.
My favourite dish of the evening had to be the Nasu Dengaku which is grilled aubergine (eggplant) with miso. Something I’d never tried before but recommended by our waitress I was so glad we’d ordered it as it was literally the best thing ever. If you’re not a fan of sweet and savoury together then this might not be for you because it’s a very sugary and syrupy type dish.
A Nasu Dengaku glaze is made from dashi, sugar, mirin, miso, cornstarch and yuzu. Coating the already grilled aubergine and sprinkling with sesame seeds the glaze is then caramelised on top of the eggplant. The outcome is a soft vegetable infused with a sweet spices.
The least exciting aspect of our meal was the prawn spring rolls. They were just a bit ‘meh’ – too oily and the shell was over cooked. Also, I’m pretty sure there were mushrooms in there, so never going to be winner for me.
The finale of our Nambu-Tei meal was a big bowl of udon soup. I can’t remember what the actual dish we chose was called, but it included udon (a type of thick wheat flour noodle), seaweed, a poached egg, battered king prawn and naruto (which is identifiable by the pink spiral in it).
We were probably more entertained trying to serve ourselves the udon soup than we were were actually eating it because we were really struggling with just chopsticks and a chirirenge (the name for a Japanese china spoon). We were giggling our heads off as the noodles kept flinging themselves back into the soup bowl splashing us as they landed. Being very careful not to come across rude our laughter got the better of us and our waitress brought us a knife and folk. The dish was pretty tasty, salty but quite light, it was a pleasant end to our meal.
A fresh cup of green tea was served alongside the bill – which didn’t include service charge and came to a grand total of £42.50. We felt that was pretty decent considering how much we enjoyed the meal and how fun our experience at Nambu-Tei had been.
ADDRESS: 209 Baker St, London NW1 6AB
CONTACT: 020 7486 5026
OPENING HOURS: 12:00 – 2:30pm and 6:00 – 10:00pm Monday to Friday, 6:00 – 10:00pm Saturday and closed Sundays