FIRST LOOK – Namo Izakaya
Downtown Sarasota has a brand new ramen option!
One of my readers dropped an email into my inbox the other day (I love it when you send your thoughts over). It wasn’t on today’s topic, but he did ask a question in response to something I had said. It was one that got me considering. He asked, “Who wants to eat ramen when it’s 95° out?”.
I didn’t really need to think about it all that long. And I think he was being generous by pegging the temp at “only” 95°. 🌡️ But, as it turns out, the answer is simple: ME! 🍲
My love of soup has been well documented in previous newsletter editions. I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say, I haven’t had a day in the past 30-40 years that I wouldn’t be happy with a delicious bowl of broth + any ingredients. So, today’s FIRST LOOK will be a hot weather, soup slurping pleasure to write.
Down on Lower Main, a new face has appeared on our local Sarasota dining scene. The name is new (and the location), but the folks behind it are not. It’s the same talented people who bring us that delicious Drunken Poet food! Yes, they are spreading their wings.
Izakaya. If you’re not familiar with the term, you’re certainly not alone. Relax. We’re here to help with a little no-charge international education.
Izakaya is a type of informal Japanese bar that serves alcoholic drinks and snacks. Izakaya are casual places for after-work drinking, similar to a pub, a Spanish tapas bar, or an American saloon or tavern. – MORE INFO HERE
I know EXACTLY what both an American tavern AND a saloon are. 😁 So, I think I can paint myself a reasonably accurate picture based on previous experience. I’m thinking Japanese Happy Hour. Does that sound right?…
If you are still in need of some additional instruction, Chef Bank Tansiri is more than happy to provide it. A meal at Namo Izakaya (1439 Main St. (941) 362-3332) comes not only with delicious Japanese cuisine but a side of culinary information. All for the asking.
📝 That has been one of the BIG upsides of writing about food for the past 20+ years. There is just SO much to learn and, of course, to eat!
The inside has been refreshed from its recent past as a Philly cheesesteak joint. Eagles & Phillies signage down, and more appropriate Izakaya décor up!
To date, there isn’t a ton of info out there on Namo. They have a Facebook page and just got their website up and running. There have been a few articles written about the opening (SRQ Magazine). I’m going to make things easy on you. Here’s a printable copy of their menu for your perusal >> NAMO MENU
So, let’s talk about the food…
That sweet corn cheese was out of this world delicious. I didn’t get any Japanese influence with this starter dish. But I really didn’t care. You might want to order two!
This is really different. Lotus root, wild seaweed, and bell pepper make this salad burst with flavor. My first taste of a Hijiki Seaweed Salad and I liked it! 🥗
Yes, had to have the pork gyoza. It’s a pretty simple and basic dish. This version was solid. But there are some other apps that sound more interesting. Maybe the Ebi Mayo on my next trip…
And finally, what I really walked in the door for. My steaming bowl of ramen on a sultry Sarasota evening. I went for the traditional Tonkotsu version (although I could hear the creamy curry style calling my name 😊).
OK, yes, there is A LOT going on in that bowl. Super earthy broth, perfectly cooked egg, twisty noodles, and savory pork. But the real standout in this bowl (at least for me) was the nori. Tempura fried nori! We are talking full-on sheets of umami here! If a bowl of that nori were sitting in the center of the table like chips (minus salsa), look out!! 😮
It’s a pretty big bowl of goodness. There is no doubt that you’ll push away from that table full and satisfied.
The Price: Three appetizers, one bowl of delicious ramen, one glass of sauvignon blanc ($15), and one Sapporo ($7), for a grand total of $62. It’s not a bad price for dinner for two. Maybe not a bargain meal, but not an over-the-top splurge, either. Probably somewhere in the middle.
THE BOTTOM LINE: This Main Street newcomer has all the makings of a place that will develop a loyal regular following (and probably quickly). The service was great. The atmosphere is comfortable. And the food, well, you can check those photos above again. They pretty much sum things up nicely!
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Yes, things are looking a little thin on the event front. It is summer. Hopefully, the calendar will fill up soon! 🤞
AUG 19 – Laughter in LWR! – GROVE Restaurant
AUG 19 – Spotlight on Limelight Market – INFORMATION
AUG 24 – South France Wine Tasting – Mademoiselle Paris
AUG 29 – Wine Pairing Dinner – Amore Restaurant
AUG 30 – Wines Around the World, Italy – GROVE Restaurant
AUG 31 – A Journey of Flavors Wine Dinner – Tzeva
SEPT 8 – Caymus & Truffle Wine Dinner – Café Gabbiano
SEPT 22 – St. Supéry Wine Dinner – Pier 22
SEPT- 23 – Sarasota Opera Food & Wine Festival 2023 – INFORMATION
OCT 12 TO 14 – EAT LOCAL WEEK! – Transition Sarasota
OCT 15 – Morton’s 23rd Annual Chili Cook Off – INFORMATION
OCT 17 – 2024 Forks & Corks Grand Tasting Ticket ON SALE DATE!
NOV 2 – Celebrity Chef Dinner – Pop’s Sunset Grill
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