Upon stepping into this beautifully decorated space, you will be greeted by Masterchef winner Tim Anderson’s Japanese fusion creation, Nanban. According to the website, “Nanban means ‘Southern Barbarian’, a term the Japanese once used to describe Europeans, since they first arrived in Japan via the South China Seas, and they were, of course, barbaric.” Nanban is located a short walk from Brixton tube station.
There’s nothing barbaric about Anderson’s food, carefully presented in pretty ceramic dishes and thoughtfully balanced on the palette. We went on a Thursday night, me displaying classic “hangry” behaviour having come straight from a BOOM cycle class (review to come!). Thankfully our excellent waiter swiftly took our order. A tangy Salmon Kake-ae (vinegar-cured salmon with daikon, carrot, and cucumber in a miso-sesame dressing) and fluffy Ackee & Saltfish Korokke (potato, ackee, and saltfish croquettes with katsu sauce) were summoned to placate my hunger. The tartness of the vinegar-cured salmon was well balanced by the richness of the miso-sesame dressing. The korokke was unexpectedly spicy but worked well with the saltfish and the katsu sauce. Our waiter accidently ordered an extra Eringi with Ponzu Butter (the King of Mushrooms, sauteed in ponzu butter, garnished with crushed garlic chips) which we were allowed to keep at no extra cost, a nice touch. The texture of the eringi was firm but I felt the flavour element fell short, leaving the dish a little bland.
Appetisers were followed by a hearty bowl of Kumamoto Ramen (thin noodles in nose-to-tail pork broth with garlic chips, burnt garlic oil, pork belly, tea-pickled egg, and pickled mustard greens) for me and a Sasebo Burger (two 100g burger patties with burnt garlic mayo, gochujang burger sauce, pork belly, American cheese, pickled red onion, lettuce, and tomato) for Mike. Serving sizes were generous. I thought the ramen was tasty although I wasn’t entirely convinced about the tea-pickled egg. Ramen purists may turn their noses up at Anderson’s offering but they should remember that Nanban is a fusion restaurant and seeks to try new combinations. The burger was yummy with ample amounts of sauce. Who can say no to two patties and pork belly in one burger?
The drinks menu also offered interesting choices. I went for the perfectly delectable plum wine whilst Mike opted for a Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Cedar-Aged Ale (don’t ask me anything about that – beer n00b). If we had more time/were feeling boozy we would have loved to try all the sochus and sakes on offer (okay, well maybe not all…). Bonus brownie points go to Nanban for stocking the much acclaimed Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, good for those wanting something a bit more special with their meal.
All in all, a solid Japanese-fusion option in Brixton with good sized dishes made with fresh ingredients.
- Starters x2 (plus x1 free)
- Mains x2
- Drinks x2