On one of the hotter days of 2011, Ryan and I headed to the beach for a picnic dinner. We watched the sun set while noshing on sandwiches, chips, and guacamole. On our way home, or more like an out of the way route that we decided to take, we stopped in at a new local restaurant for a snack.
Nojo – it means “farm” in Japanese. The menu at Nojo changes daily, the ingredients are locally-sourced, hence its name. On each daily menu, the farms from which the ingredients are sourced are listed.
The restaurant was busy, but we were still able to get a table. Corner table – score! It meant we could people-watch while we waited. Or perhaps pose for photos?
Our food took much longer than one would expect to wait. Something about burnt gyouza in the kitchen. :/ Along with the multiple water refills, we were brought these pan-fried gyouza to make up for the wait.
Ryan likes his gyouza soft, while I like mine with a nice crispy edge. He won this battle. These just fell apart when we picked them up for the dipping/eating. If I had ordered them, I would have probably been disappointed, so I’m glad that I did not.
The first dish we ordered to arrive was the chawanmushi [literally "tea cup steam" or "steamed in a tea bowl"] with Dungeness crab and green garlic. Hooray for there actually being crab! I’m a huge fan of chawanmushi, which is essentially a Japanese egg custard dish with various mixings. The texture of this one matched the ones I’d eaten before. The salty layer of sauces on top complemented the rest of the egg in the jar.
Next up: beef tongue with tare sauce and shichimi [7-flavor chili pepper]! Absolutely perfect. Not overcooked. Tender. Delicious. It put all the beef tongue I’d consumed growing up to shame, minus the price tag.
Our final “snack” was the tsukune with egg yolk sauce. Adding the egg made the sauce more interesting.
For some reason, after having both dinner and these snacks, we still had some room in our stomachs for DESSERT!
We ordered the Nojo Sundae to share – black sesame ice cream, Etrog citron, and peanut thunder crackers [similar to lightly sweetened Rice Krispies]. Even though I’m not huge on desserts, if we had to pick our favorite for the evening, this would be it. The beef tongue came second. I normally don’t order sesame-flavored desserts because there is a tendency to overdo the sesame, and it ends up a little bitter. There was no bitterness in the ice cream. I heard it was from Humphry Slocombe – love that place!
Despite the initial wait, we enjoyed our meal. We’re not picky like that. It doesn’t quite bring me back to the izakaya days in terms of atmosphere, but the food is good enough for me to revisit. There are kinks to be worked out considering we stopped in on day two of business, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to stop by again when those are ironed out.