Melbourne, VIC 3000
Hand-made udon is so last year. How about some lovely foot-made udon instead?
Nama Nama is a new venture on the corner of Flinders Land and Spring Street by the brains behind the highly popular Izakaya Den, so we expected some good nosh. Some good, pricey nosh. They specialise in foot-made udon, which may sound gross but is actually perfectly hygienic (I hope). The dough is wrapped in plastic, and the foot-kneader washes their feet, puts on some thick, clean cotton socks, before actually stepping onto the dough. And the udon that results from it is a revelation, but more on that later.
Nama Nama also offers build-your-own bento boxes, as well as a small selection of sweet treats, breakfast items, and the obligatory sushi. The pictures of the bento creations I’ve seen floating around look absolutely delectable, but contrary to appearances, there’s been account after account of cold, pre-made food sitting in the cabinet for way too long. So despite some of the bento options sounding absolutely mouth-watering, we stuck to the soupy, slurpy, udon bowls instead.
It was a beautiful Melbourne day just on the cusp of summer, so instead of squeezing into bench seating inside, we sat outside by the street. I really appreciated the extra light for my photos, and Chris and I both enjoyed the warm sun and light breeze. And the adorable water glasses that are a signature of Izakaya Den’s re-awakened my carefully contained impulse to steal cutlery.
|Wagyu Beef Udon ($15)|
Chris opted for the Wagyu Beef Udon ($15), which was simply done up with onions, shallots, and pink slices of wagyu. The soup had a depth of flavour that’s rarely encountered, with a prominent wild beefiness to it that was balanced out by a civilised degree of sweetness. The slices of beef were fatty and tender, and you could really taste the marbelling that’s characteristic of good wagyu, regardless of it being so thinly sliced.
|Wagyu Beef Udon ($15)|
There are so many good things about this bowl of noodles, but the highlight was definitely the udon. As wide as new shoelaces and as thick as... new shoelaces, the chunky, slippery noodles reached the holy grail where every strand was a perfect toothsome al dente, without the least hint of doughiness.
|Pork Udon ($15)|
It was remarkable how different the Pork Udon ($15) was to the beef. Instead of clean, grassy beef flavours, this soup was infused with the fatty essence of braised pork belly, and a slight hint of vinegar to balance out the richness. Four thick slabs of pork belly melted unctuously on the tongue. The vegetable garnishes on top were faultlessly fresh, and the gooey quail egg is something you don’t see nearly enough in noodle dishes in Melbourne. This was even better than the already delicious beef udon.
I don’t know how the bento boxes here are, but you will definitely never be disappointed with the udon options. They’ve taken a simple, every-day dish and made it with so much care and love that it’s become something really quite special. It’s well worth every cent, and we drank the soup right down to its dregs.
Rating: 14.5/20 – nama nama nama nama batman!