Nakama Pop Up Review

Hi all,

Hopefully you’ve noticed the number of pop ups which have been hitting the city, they seem to be one of the new trends and a way for chefs to test their menus and Nottingham’s appetite before diving straight into a full venue. This pop up is about Nakama, who have been doing them across various venues in town. On the occasion I visited they were at The Playhouse, where I went for Ginsecco’s pop up a few months back.

Nakama Japanese Food Review

Looking through the menu I genuinely didn’t know what half of the words or ingredients were (and I call myself a foodie!) I’ve never really delved into Japanese food before so a lot of the ingredients sounded quite scary, even though when you boil them down they’re actually standard dishes simply influenced by Japan. The full description of the food is below each image I had.

Food

As this was at another venue I’ll dive straight into the food. As soon as we headed to the bar and sat down one of the waitresses came over to offer some canapés. I honestly couldn’t tell you what the flavours were but there were fish, meat and vegetarian options to choose from. If I remember rightly we kept grabbing a different waitress and ended up with all options…the start of a good night!

Cured seatrout NakamaKombu and yuzu cured sea trout, sea aster panna cotta, compressed cantaloupe and yuzu
Translation: seaweed and citrus fruit cured seatrout, sea aster panna cotta with compressed melon and citrus

This had such an array of flavours, as you can imagine by the description! The panna cotta on its own was quite overpowering but when you added a bit of melon and sea trout into the mix everything toned itself down and complimented each other. This was a good start to Nakama’s menu as the fish was fresh, smoky which went extremely well with the citrus tang of the sauces.

Sesame tuna NakamaSesame tuna tataki, compressed kyuri, squid ink onigiri, wasabi
Translation: seared sesame tuna, compressed cucumber, squid ink rice balls, wasabi

Next, the tuna. I really enjoyed the squid ink ball on this, it was really sticky and the texture was great with the soft tuna. I don’t remember eating the wasabi on this dish in terms of getting a strong flavour which is a shame as I usually love the stuff. The cucumber had a pickled taste which, on its own, was strong but merged together was decent.

Garlic and truffle gnocchiBlack garlic and truffle gnocchi, sweet potato and chipotle puree, pickle shimeji mushroom, herb infused oil

This was a dish that was completely different to how I was expecting. I was expecting gnocchi, or something resembling the stuff, but instead I got what looked like a black pudding. This was something that didn’t shout out to me. The sauces were a little bland (again, I would have expected a sharp taste from chipotle) and the main truffle gnocchi didn’t really knock my socks off. It was nice, but that’s all I can really say about it.

Duck breast NakamaDuck breast, orange miso, hispi cabbage, kimchi pickle orange, tarragon foam

This was one of the most disappointing dishes and it started when the plate came out. The actual plate I was given looked dirty and smeared and I don’t know if it was just the lighting or the texture of the plate but it did put me off (you can see what I mean in the bottom right of the photo). The actual duck was not tender, either. It was quite fatty and chewy and I didn’t really enjoy it.  Again, the side sauces and accompaniments weren’t something that made up for the dish.

Chocolate strawberry cannoliWhite chocolate, strawberry cannoli, macerated strawberry, chocolate soil, yuzu and lemon grass sorbet

This one was a nice end to the night and a massive portion! As with most white chocolate desserts I didn’t really taste that flavour but the soil and cannoli were great together. I’d be happy to order this again if it came down to it as it had the sweet and chocolate aspects that I love from a dessert.

Overall

Nakama Rating 6/10

£112 for 2 people / £56 pp for the set menu and a bottle of wine.

I enjoyed the pop up experience but I found most of the dishes to be a little flat. The descriptions and presentation were brilliant but the flavours just didn’t seem to be that amazing. It started really well but by the end of the night I felt a little let down. I know of people who have been to Nakama and I seem to be one of the few with this view but unfortunately this may be one of those places that was built up so much, it just couldn’t live up to the expectation.

One weird thing that I’d like to point out too is that they give you chopsticks as well as cutlery but none of the dishes are suitable – in my opinion – to eat with chopsticks. Every dish we were holding them, waiting to utilise them but we ended up grabbing the boring old knife and fork. It would be great if they could give some direction on which dishes are expected to be eaten with them, just so everybody’s on the same page.

Recommended for: couples, adventure, a taste of Japan, date night
Not recommended for: fussy eaters, cheap night out

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Love for you all x

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