Nama Nama

March 25, 2013

31 Spring Street, Melbourne

Note: Nama Nama closed mid-2014 and has been reinvented as casual Japanese eatery Kappa.


While interning over the summer I received a tip off from a friend (thanks SM!) about a great little Japanese cafe, Nama Nama. Taking over the shop front where Verge used to be, Nama Nama looks out onto the Treasury Gardens and attracts a mainly corporate crowd in the lunch hour rush.

Over the summer I never got a chance to come and eat here, but I did get take away sushi a number of times – their fresh tuna and the yuzu salmon nori rolls were my favourite, but they have a number of interesting vego options too. Cheerful and cosy, Nama Nama was the setting for my thursday lunch with T aka “weekly lunch in which we steel ourselves for three hours of international commercial law”. Now there’s a subject decision I’m rethinking…

I was drawn to Nama Nama by the promise of DIY bento – after all, who doesn’t love a bento box? Little compartments of jewelled sashimi, pickles and vinegary rice; eating a bento box is like a super fancy version of those kiddie snacks your mum used to give you with crackers, cheddar and ham all in plastic wrapping. Speaking of…

Anyway, the deal is you choose one option out of three for each category. From the salads I went with the seaweed, daikon and lemon salad, a refreshing and tart mix.

My raw dish was three beautifully cut pieces of salmon sashimi all snuggly and wrapped up in a leaf.

From the “rice n’ rolled” section I had a five grain rice and pickled ginger onigiri, and out of the Japanese specials (not pictured), a delicious crumbed sardine with a soy Worcestershire sauce.

The main compartment of the box is filled with rice and topped with pickles and my choice of yuzu baked kingfish with snow peas.

Ta da!! Here’s my personalised bento! I really enjoyed eating this; wholesome and healthy food. Everything was put together really well, plenty of fresh, lemony flavours going on here, what with the yuzu kingfish and the lemon / daikon salad. One of the best bentos in town!

Nama Nama even offer bento memberships for regulars – if I ever end up working at this end of town, there’s a high chance that I will be!

The other popular option at Nama Nama is the udon noodle soups. Choose between pork belly, wagyu beef, tempura prawns or tofu. “I’m getting the pork, because it comes with a quail egg”, explains T. I can’t help but agree with his reasoning – quail eggs are pretty awesome.

A delicious, huggable bowl of noodles and soup will set you back $15, but the quality of the broth and the ingredients makes it well worth it. Another plus is that they hand make their udon noodles here – or should I say foot-make? I didn’t know this, but the traditional method to making udon is to knead the dough with your feet! Don’t stress, plastic sealed bags and clean socks are used!

Watching T eat his noodles, I was experiencing serious food envy so went back the next week and had a bowl myself – sure enough, wonderfully fresh, bouncy noodles and a flavoursome porky broth. Simply delicious, and very effective at warming me up after that cold snap we’ve had recently!

If you can’t make it over here for lunch, they’re also open for dinner most nights of the week and offer a killer (and very well priced) selection of small dishes to share, as well as their udon soups. Could definitely see myself throwing back some wasabi peas and a beer here – highly recommend you make it down for a bowl of noodles or a DIY bento!

Nama Nama on Urbanspoon

Filed under: Japanese, Melbourne CBD