After having seen me trying to plough through a rather 'meh' bento box from Yoyogi, Ms A suggested that try out the bento boxes at Nama Nama.
Despite the fact that NN was located near Spring St (a far away journey from where I dwell in my office pod), I was up for it, as I had seen it mentioned in The Age as a good spot for decent bentos.
So on a sunny day, we made the journey to NN. Upon entering we were slightly confused as to whether there was table service or not. The staff seemed a bit frazzled and wasn't able to give clear advice (or perhaps, we didn't understand their frazzled advice). Soon, we were seated outside on the pavement. Although we were still kinda not sure whether we go in to place our order.
A few minutes later, a friendly waiter came out with a menu - and I mean, a menu. One menu for four people. After a bit of deliberation, we placed our order and waited... and waited... After some waiting, Ms B's lunch came out.
Ms B went for some nori rolls - teriyaki prawn and fresh tuna. I've read from online reviews that the sushi here is great, especially with its crispy, toasted nori. I could tell by the raggedy edges that the nori was not crispy, and had probably been made for some time. Ms B confirmed that the nori was a tad chewy, but the sushi was nice.
Although Ms B's sushi came out, the three of us waited, and waited, and waited some more. Eventually, our bentos came out. The deal with the bento boxes at NN is that you pick five items from a list of about 15 dishes.
Clockwise from top right: silken tofu and white anchovy rice paper roll; crumbed sardine w soy Worcestershire sauce; seaweed, daikon and lemon salad; baked kingfish, snow peas and yuzu dressing w rice, garlic shoots and pickles; heirloom tomato and zucchini w fuji apple dressing.
I decided to go for pretty much all of the seafood items. The salad was delightfully refreshing and I loved the unexpectedly crunchy bits on top (I think it was crispy lemony bits). The rice paper roll was okay... good quality ingredients but the silky texture of the tofu and slipperiness of the anchovy meant that the overall texture was a tad slimy. However, the crumbed de-boned sardine was delicious, fresh and crisp. The Worcestershire dressing help cut through the oily richness of the sardine. The tomato and zucchini skewer was okay. I really liked my main. The kingfish was juicy and fresh, and there was a pretty good amount of it too (especially since these bentos are a tad more expensive). Simple flavours but done very well. I was quite full and forced myself to finish 95% of the box.
However, my enjoyment of the bento box was in the minority. Unfortunately, Ms W and Ms A weren't as impressed with their bentos.
Clockwise from top right: five grain rice and pickled ginger onigri; mince duck hamburger w miso sauce; chicken salad w plum dressing; slow cooked pork neck w ponzu walnut sauce w rice; heirloom tomato and zucchini w fuji apple dressing.
While I think Ms W generally liked her items (but not to the extent of my enjoyment), she definitely was not impressed with the slow cooked pork neck. In particular, she said it had an off taste and didn't finish it. Later when we went in to pay our bill, Ms W noticed that the pork neck was sitting in a non-refrigerated display case. In her mind, that probably explained the off taste.
Clockwise from top right: five grain rice and pickled ginger onigri (missing in action); sansho pepper edamame; Japanese pumpkin and coriander salad; grilled eggplant and mushroom, sundried tomato and potato sauce w rice; heirloom tomato and zucchini salad w fuji apple dressing.
Ms A went for the veggie items. The first thing she noticed was that her onigri was missing. I went in to get a replacement for her. The staff were very apologetic for the error, then then brought out two onigri. Similar to Ms W, Ms A liked most of her items but wasn't overly impressed given the price of the bento. I did snaffle some of Ms A's edamame, which were pretty tasty and morish. I liked how the sansho pepper gave a tingly feeling on my lips. It was a pity that I was really full and couldn't snaffle a few more.
Food – 7
Ambience – 7
Service – 6.5
Price – 6.5
Our visit at NN was a mixed bag. Of the four of us, I enjoyed it the most and felt that the $18 bento was worth it in terms of quality and quantity. Ms W and Ms A didn't think the bentos were worth the price (and said they were probably worth $10-$12 instead) and wouldn't be going back there in a hurry. While Ms B's view were somewhere in between us.
Service was attentive and friendly when it was present. For the other times, it was rather difficult to get their attention (maybe it was made worse by the fact that we were sitting outside on the Flinders Lane side). There was a rather long wait (in total about 30 minutes from the time we ordered) between Ms B getting her lunch, and the three of us getting our boxes (plus the missing onigri). I don't know why it took so long, as I'm assuming that most/all of the items of the bento boxes were already pre-prepared.
31 Spring St
Telephone: 9639 9500