Due to open in August is NOMICA, the restaurant we mentioned was coming to the former Pesce in the Castro from the Sushi Ran team. A few more details have emerged, starting with who the chef is: Hiroo Nagahara, a Tokyo native who has lived in the U.S. He worked for Charlie Trotter and was also the culinary talent behind The Chairman food truck concept. During the past year, he has been traveling and working in Japan at Kagurazaka Ishikawa (three months) and Narisawa (two months)—he wanted to get back to his roots and go deeper into his heritage by cooking in Japan. He will be working with the Sushi Ran team: Yoshi Tome, Paul Quinn, and Mynor Morales.
The concept is different from Sushi Ran—Nomica will be a modern Japanese restaurant featuring a fresh take on Japanese cuisine and ingredients (don’t expect sushi here). While the food will be technique-driven, it will still be comfortable—rustic but focused. Some dishes will be inspired by chef Hiroo’s memories of his youth in Japan and dishes prepared by his mother.
A few sample dishes include a sashimi salad that will have five kinds of fish in it (which will change daily), with the fish dressed in different ways, from salts to oils, and seasonal vegetables playing a part as well, like romano beans and marinated radishes. Chef Hiroo also mentions a kara age cube, a spin on a dish he remembers having as a young boy, but served with accompaniments like shiso, a glaze, and relish. There will also be gyoza farce-stuffed chicken wings—that are brined in koji—and the gyoza filling is his mother’s recipe, and a Hitachino beer and Parmesan waffle will come with matcha butter and truffle maple syrup. Nope, no shortage of creativity here. While talking to Hiroo, you learn so many intricacies to these dishes. There will be a lot more than meets the eye, but the taste is what matters most to him.
There will be small plates, both hot and cold and designed to share, and larger plates will be available as half portions, like crispy sea bass (loup de mer) with raw big-fin squid, and a ragout of red quinoa and black togarashi. Donabe rice will be served tableside—an homage to his time at Kagurazaka Ishikawa—and served with Dungeness crab, marinated salmon roe, crab roe, and mitsuba.
Look for many housemade items, such as Hokkaido koji, umeboshi iwashi “anchovy,” and organic matcha butter, and there will also be bread made in-house (just wait for his pastry chef Adam Cruz’s 27-layer laminated brioche).
There will be a full bar specializing in awamori, a spirit from Yoshi’s native Okinawa, and a bar menu, plus lots of sakes and wines. The team is highly focused on offering finely tuned service, even though the atmosphere will be casual. There will be room for 80 in the dining room, with some communal seating and 20 at the bar, and a private dining room is available for 8-12 as well. CSS Architecture/Cass Calder Smith is behind the design. There is a lot of on-site carpentry, utilizing black walnut, with 30-foot cypress beams and cedar.
As for the name, it has a double meaning: it represents the crossroads where it’s located—Noe Valley (no), the Mission (mi), and the Castro (ca)—but it also means “drinking house” in Japanese. It will be open for dinner nightly 5pm-11pm. We’ll keep you posted on more details as the opening gets closer. 2223 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-655-3280.
Photo courtesy of Nomica.