My new favourite haunt in Brixton is Nanban, the Japanese ‘soul food’ restaurant from MasterChef winner Tim Anderson. There’s no shortage of great places to discover in this part of London but Nanban will suit all tastes – whether you’re on your way to a concert or a quieter night at the Ritzy cinema.
I’ve eaten at Nanban several times (trying a range of dishes for ‘blogger purposes’) and am yet to be disappointed. Portions are generous and the prices aren’t unreasonable, so even if you only have a large dish you’ll leave full and satisfied.
Starting with the large dishes, my favourite by far is the lamb tan tan men – thin noodles in chilli-sesame broth with Szechuan-spiced lamb mince, roast lamb neck fillet and other herbs and spices. The taste is heavenly and meaty and you’ll be sad when your bowl’s empty. The Kumamoto pork ramen is another solid and safe choice if you like your noodle dishes. My boyfriend is a fan of the bone katsu, deep-fried crispy pork chop with tonkotsu sauce.
If fish is more your thing, the Brixton Market fish will inevitably be fresh (as it come straight from the eclectic Brixton Market) and flavoured with a range of spices. You can upgrade the fish to a full meal, complete with miso soup and rice, which is always a good idea. The fish dish I went with last time was seabass but who knows what it will be next time!
The small dishes on Nanban’s menu work well as accompanying dishes or on their own as lunch. I highly recommend the yaki-imo, sweet potato with ponzu butter and black sesame salt, because sweet potato is always a good idea. The salmon kake-ae, semi-cured salmon with Japanese vegetables, is very refreshing and a perfect lunch portion.
So far, I’ve only tried one Nanban dessert – the Nanbanana. I made the mistake of sharing this one only to find out it’s the sort of dish you want all to yourself – banana in miso black sugar butterscotch with cinnamon icecream, kinako, walnuts and crispy fried noodles. Hungry yet?
Nanban’s also got you covered on cocktails, which you can make the most of by visiting at happy hour (5pm-7pm every day). Whether it’s the classic mojito or matcha margarita (or beer, of which there is also plenty) you won’t go thirsty while eating all that food.
I’ve only scraped the surface of Nanban’s menu and there are a lot more dishes I’d like to try – such as the lazy goat tsukemen, KFJ (marinated jackfruit) and ganbari-misu (matcha tiramisu).
The word’s clearly got out about Nanban because it’s always busy when I visit. I recommend booking a table if you’re having dinner, if you don’t want to join the queue. They also have a number of deals – such as the £6 ramen for lunch and 25% off when ordering between 5pm-6pm – and who doesn’t love a deal, especially when it’s Japanese food?
Nanban’s quickly become a firm favourite with this blog, so I hope you go and give it some love next time you venture south of the Thames…