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February 24, 2017
Habits

Nagomi Japanese Kitchen on Hutt Street

Filling the Kenji-shaped hole on Hutt Street (literally) and in our hearts (figuratively), Nagomi is another classic dining institution in the making.

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  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Julian Cebo

There are two concepts you will be greeted with as you enter Hutt Street’s latest Japanese restaurant, Nagomi.

The first is written on the door.

Remarks

Nagomi is located at Shop 5, 242 Hutt Street, Adelaide and opens for lunch Monday to Friday from 12pm – 2:30 pm and for dinner from Monday to Saturday from 6pm – 10pm.

The name Nagomi, according to owner and head chef, Nobuki Hayashi, means “relaxing, [to] become calm.”

The neatly aligned rows of tables, sparsely distributed items placed along the clean lines of shelving, and the considered plating of the sashimi, courtesy of Nobu, all take cues from that philosophy.

“Service will be a little bit more relaxed,” says Akira Takahashi, who heads up Nagomi’s front of house, and who also worked with Nobu at Ichitaro Dining.

“It’s more enjoyable for you to sit down with your family, with friends, so it’s less uptight service. We’re trying to be more relaxed, enjoy great food amongst a relaxed atmosphere.”

Nobu and Akira

The second concept at the heart of Nagomi is one that Nobu describes as being central in all Japanese cuisine, and so features on the first page of the restaurant’s menu – umami.

Some might be familiar with umami being defined as the savoury fifth taste, but for Nobu and Akira, it’s much broader than just a flavour.

“Umami is a thing that, you know, there’s no direct answer of that’s what it is,” Akira says.

“But Japanese food is about the sense that you get that it’s so different, and that’s umami. So it’s things you can’t actually describe very well.”

To better explain, Akira points to Nobu’s feature menu item, saikyo style black cod.

“This is one of the things where people are like ‘Oh my God, I love this. Can I have it again?’ There is no direct reason why they love this one, [and] that’s a good example of umami,” he says.

“It’s marinated for three days, you slow bake them, and then when the customer comes, it looks like just a piece of fish, so when you eat it all sorts of things are happening at the same time, and you just realise I’m not just eating a grilled fish, this is something different. This is not cured, this is not grilled, this is not baked, this is not even slow-cooked, this is everything in between, and that is umami.”

Seasonality is also a key component to Nobu’s approach, even going so far as to source a golden leaf from Himeji Garden a short walk away to garnish the dish CityMag was served.

Mostly though, what’s apparent from watching Nobu in the kitchen of his own restaurant is the level of care and precision that makes the philosophy not just sound great, but taste great too.

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