When in New York City, I can always count on my good friends Mike and Jaime to show me the best eats in the city. Last fall, Mike took me to Izayaka NoMad, a Japanese gastropub (izakaya) a short walk from Madison Square park last year and I quickly fell in love with the place. In many ways it reminded me of the izayaka places I used to go to in Okinawa. We managed to snag bar seats on a busy Saturday night, share a bottle of sake, and indulge in savory yakitori chicken. It was one of those places that I yearned to return to on my next trip to NYC. So I did…
About Izakaya NoMad
The Scene: Izakaya NoMad is everything you expect a Japanese gastropub to be: a bit of sensory overload (at least that’s how I feel every time I visit Japan). The servers happily greeted us upon entering, the scent of barbeque filled the room, and the beautiful bottles of sake lining the bar quickly captured my attention. The dining room is narrow, with a semi private dining room, a bar where guests can eat, and a seating area that goes deep to the rear of the building. The crowd, mostly Asian, is young, lively, and very stylish.
The Food: Hmmm… where do I start. My first visit to Izakaya NoMad was more casual so we sat at the bar and ordered a selection of chicken skewers. This time, me made a reservation (you can make them via Open Table) to have the full dinner experience. We started with a selection of starters to share. We told our server to “surprise us” with a few starters to share. We started with the pork belly (one of my favorite, very succulent with a side of greens to curb the guilt. That was followed by bacon wrapped mochi and brussels sprouts that were equally amazing. I never had mochi (rice cake) wrapped in bacon, but must say this is the best idea ever… We then moved on to the ginko nut. These were served on a skewer and resemble small olives. It’s supposed to be a super food. We tried, we really tried to like them but we all agreed it was not our thing….
We moved on to grilled veggies… the grilled avocado was one of my favorites. Grilled avocado is one of my favorite izakaya dishes, I try to replicate at home with no luck-there must be magic in the Izakaya grills… We ended our dinner with a gorgeous plate of sashimi. The fish was fresh and the platter was the right size to share between three people. I also loved that they were generous with the tako (octopus), which is one of my favorites.
The Service: Both times we’ve been to Izayaka NoMad, the service is friendly, fast, and consistent. Mike, who lives in the neighborhood is a regular, he says that is one of the things that keeps him coming back. The menu at the restaurant can be a intimidating for those not familiar with the cuisine but the staff does a great job at helping guests choose from the menu.
The Verdict: If you’re looking for a unique yet casual dining experience in New York City, head to Izakaya NoMad. Look to spend between $30-$40 per person including a few beers or sake.
Look into late night ramen starting at 10pm. My friends rave about it. On my list for my next trip to NYC.