Open for breakfast and lunch, Nama Nama’s menu is simple, with most items available to take away. There’s handmade udon noodle soup (eat-in only), nori rolls made to order, Nama Katsu buns (a crumbed prawn, pork or broccoli and potato pattie with tonkatsu sauces and a steamed egg) and choose-your-own bento boxes.
Owner Simon Denton and his team have made the most of the space, with low tables and shortened stools placed in the nooks of the cafe, a window bench looking onto Flinders Lane and seats at the bar with wonderful views of the Treasury Gardens opposite. Large menus on thick cardboard backing are stuck to the white walls, which diners can pull off, examine, order, and stick back on at their leisure.
The bento boxes consist of five parts – salad, rice ‘n’ roll friends, raw style, Japanese speciality, and main with rice, pickles and treats – each with three options to choose from. All the elements are displayed at the front counter, which is certain to set hungry customers’ mouths watering. Think delicate Wagyu beef rice paper roll, gingery smoked salmon salad, poached duck breast, sticky pork and daikon rice cake and baked eggplant and rice.
A decent drinks list showcases sake, chuhai (a canned Japanese carbonated alcoholic drink), umeshu (a plum liqueur), beer and tea. For breakfast choose from Nama Katsu buns, toast, fresh fruit and breakfast bento and top it off with a coffee made from Market Lane beans.
There’s also small retail shop set to open soon, nestled at the back of the cafe, selling gorgeous Japanese ceramics made exclusively for the establishment, including udon bowls, chopstick holders and hard-to-find Japanese beer.
With clever food, smooth service and a very reasonable menu (there’s nothing over $16), Nama Nama is bound to be a favourite city lunch spot.