In my opinion, Nombe (pronounced “nom-bay”) has been the best addition to the Mission’s dining scene in the last year (in fact, I included it in the May edition of my Examiner series “Restaurants to Impress.” The spirit of the area is completely embodied in the restaurant’s concept: no-frills, relatively inexpensive, open late, a hip-without-trying-to-be vibe on the inside, and a unique menu (well close to it, as there are almost no izakaya-style restaurants in SF), that proves seasonal, sustainable, local, Japanese diner food has a place in this city.
If your appetite can only be satisfied by indulging in a plethora of fried small-plate selections, or by tasting at least 5 different kinds of meats on sticks, then Nombe’s menu selection won’t let you down. Try the Asparagus Tempura ($8) – the miso aioli gives this traditional pairing a new, spicy spin.
There is also a fair number of house plates, which vary in size and flavor, but are all sure to impress. The Pork Belly is an obvious favorite (gee, who woulda guessed! Really though, is there ever a time when pork belly is bad?), and the Pork Spare Ribs served with a traditional, vegetable-packed broth melts right off the bone and right into your mouth.
The menu also offers a good selection of soups, salads, and pickled specialties to satisfy your unstoppable craving for….pickled veggies? Well, I guess someone must crave them, otherwise they wouldn’t be on the menu.
This is not a place where you’ll want to skip dessert; I’m convinced that if magic came in some sort of physical, edible form, it would taste exactly like Nombe’s light-as-air beignets, served with strawberry jam and whipped crème fraiche.
And for all of you sake snobs out there, Nombe has over 75 different premium sakes to choose from. Or, for those of you who, like myself, only drink sake to celebrate a truly special occasion – a night of sake bombing with college friends – Nombe also has 8 local/Japanese beers on tap, or a selection of wine from the Napa Valley.
After your first visit, you’ll leave feeling as if Nombe filled a culinary void that you didn’t even know existed – one, which luckily, will never have to be empty again.
2491 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110