“Kitchen Real Estate… That’s what makes Nomiku so great.”- Lisa Fetterman, Co-Founder of Nomiku
San Francisco’s Mission District… as crazy as it sounds, the Mission is my third home in the Bay Area. I frequent this place a lot, each time I find something new worth checking out.
24th street in general is home to many Japanese izakayas, niche dive bars and of course the local mom and pop shops catering to the Latino community. I didn’t know what to expect from today’s meet up, it sounded like a fraternity… for foodies. Pledging allegiance to the host of ingredients, cooking methodologies, and the moderators of today’s event, making it a real treat. After kicking rocks and strolling up and down the block, someone already beat me to the punch and buzzed in one of the staff members to open the door. We walked through several corridors, twists and turns only to find…
Nomiku HQ, the place has a nice NY apartment loft feel that retains the spunky personality of an SF start-up company in SOMA. The Nomiku team, being our gracious hosts provided a host of drinks to our liking. A small variety of cocktails and bites which were all made, sous-vide style. One of my favorites of the night, was the Butter Rum Raisin. Anyone who enjoys cocktails splashed with Bacardi would find this cocktail well received for bringing down the harshness of rum’s usual after taste, savory and a sweeter after taste to boot. Traditionally a winter drink, this cocktail managed to quench everyone’s Happy Hour thirst.
The guests were a wide range of folks, many of those who are already on the radar primarily within Instagram, Nomiku’s homies and of course a wide range of SF Bay Area critiques/writers (including myself). Monica (a friendly and ferocious personality), took us into the test kitchen which can only be described as a Tech Foodie’s Dorm Incubator. The work areas are split into three, kitchen on the far left, engineering station in the center and supply/rest area on the far right. When I first worked in a start-up, this is what I was led to believe, building a business from scratch into an evolving enterprise in the process, even in the comfort of your own bedroom. Boxes stacked, workshop friendly and kitchen sink at an arm’s reach, any food science engineer can salivate at the convenience of it all. My focus was diverted to the set of four plates seen here…
The Oysters Casino dish barely started coming together after all of us first arrived in the premises. Intimate with the clashing of Brine and Bacon, crowding around observing the workings of Chef Bam (Chief Design Officer/Co-Founder) meticulously putting all of the mise en place (prepped ingredients) together for the final touches. The result…
The vegetables add texture and color to the dish. Whereas the harmony between bacon and brine intertwines one another, refining the salty flavor and bringing about a means of savory confinement.
Starting with any meal is the obligatory cheese plate. If memory serves me right (a la Iron Chef). I believe the assortment consisted of a brie, gouda, blue cheese and goat cheese. I use gouda and brie on the regular but the blue cheese definitely was a welcomed addition to the palate (I’ve hated it since my visit at Father’s Office in LA). The cheese wasn’t overwhelming with the funk and it mellowed out without becoming too aggressive from past experiences of blue cheese tastings. Honey drizzled almonds served as a contrast in texture and sweetness for those who aren’t down with the funk of cheese.
After a good 45 minutes spent mingling, drinking, and getting lost into the concept of Sous-Vide, we arrived with the full spread on the dinner table. You already know my spiel with Oysters, everyone who enjoyed their moment being the food paparazzi of this dish were taking these oysters to the dome. The asparagus is dish is an alternative method of a classical dish I prepare at home (usually over a stir fry pan), still as tasty as I remember it. The italians have similar dish where they toss an egg over it adding a savory element, just a FYI. The carrots placed 3rd in my top three best dishes of the night. If I had carrots like these when I was a kid, Bugs Bunny wouldn’t even compete in the Vitamin B category. The thyme brings a savory element without the herbal essence one typically experiences. My Arepas cherry was officially popped that night, sous-vide green onions and pulled pork provided a savory highlight. While the Arepas themselves were crumbly and full of cheesy goodness.
However the real star of the night came into the form of an unlikely trio, Endives and Curry Chicken. Many people already know my Kryptonian weakness in the ethnic cuisine categories. When I first dived in, I was really hoping to avoid an allergic reaction… thank the stars I did. The endive were an edible vessel adding texture to the Indian dish, the curry wasn’t too overpowering and the chicken cooked perfectly.
Finally after the swarm of savory plates, it was about to time to break into my sweet tooth, Dulce De Leche cookies stuffed with minced apples and a Dulce De Leche, core. For those of you know that know my other guilty pleasure, you can never get enough Dulce De Leche. Sometimes, I’m led to believe much of the DDL in this world created as Caramel Cocaine for kids. I’m scratching furiously at my monitor screen hoping these babies would still exist. A moist surface divides the layers of DDL, inside the generous gobs of DDL mix well with the tiny bits of Apple giving new meaning to the term double stuffed. The drinking, eating and conversations continued well into the night until I briefly met with various people of the team and began to really talk the passion of Sous-Vide. Lisa Fetterman, really drove the point home with the versatility of Nomiku as suggested from the introductory quote. However Kitchen Real Estate isn’t something, I really thought about until I became a more active cook (sort of). Majority of the time in college (or whenever) I was attempting to cook, I didn’t have much space to begin with. Those accustomed to having a plethora of prep room, don’t seem to mind huge crock pots, baking trays and George Foreman Grills until they become an eyesore.
Then it hit me…what if I wanted to cook fancier things but didn’t have the room to store all of my experimental tools? The modern cook, a mainstream foodie, watching enough food porn to wack-off into a Sour Cream bucket and call it la crema. Sure people get lazy and order In N Out, Jack in the Box or even McDonalds once a while. For the most part, people are more keen to cooking, they want to free themselves from the atrocities of childhood meatloaf night and really show off their culinary prowess even if it is Sous-Vide eggs at 75C with some Pork Belly on the side.
All observations aside, the team successfully showcased the versatility of Sous-Vide and how much the Nomiku brand as the original pioneers to that mission. Do I believe they can succeed? Of course, only time will tell…when and how much their brand will evolve. Much thanks to the entire Nomiku HQ team for the invitation, hospitality, and everyone else in attendance. For more insights on the recipes and product itself, check out their full website (1) with their blog previewing new recipes cross-highlighted in this post and many more.
I’ve got a lot of my plate and it’s time to get a better look at the awful bites, I’ve been avoiding for quite sometime…
(1) Nomiku Website (http://nomiku.com) last viewed 3 May 2014, last updated Circa 2014