If you’re looking for a decent halal meal in Nagoya you’ll be mostly restricted to curry or kebabs. But British expat Rajib Ali has added a little variety to the landscape by opening a 100 percent halal-chili restaurant.
Although there are just three mains on the regular menu at Om Nom Nom — chili con carne, pita bread stuffed with chili and a chilidog — customers are given the choice of two free toppings and can add additional ones for just an extra ¥50 each. These toppings include guacamole, salsa and sour cream, all of which are handmade in the restaurant, along with (among other things) cheese, olives, jalapenos or corn — there is something for everyone. The chili itself is not insanely spicy, and a selection of hot sauces, ranging from tongue-tinglers to knock-socks-offers, are free to use.
The meals are normally sold as sets (lunchtime from ¥750, dinner from ¥1,200) and are very hearty, especially if you choose the chili, as an extra portion of rice is available for free. The set comes with a side of nachos, a salad, a soft drink and a dessert in the evenings, which is often handmade ice-cream. A larger portion of nachos is also available (¥500), or you can opt for the Mega version (¥800), which is big enough to feed a small family but so moreish you just might finish it yourself.
To make sure returning customers don’t get chili-overload, there is a rotating guest menu (¥800-¥1,200) that changes on a weekly basis, which can be anything from prawn curry to British staples such as coronation chicken sandwich. These guest menus are given as much care and attention as the chili, so they are all made fresh on a daily basis.
Om Nom Nom is very active on Facebook and Twitter, so be sure to check out what it has on offer, but you have to be quick, as only a dozen or so of these limited meals are made each day — once they’re gone, they’re gone.
The restaurant is clean and sleek inside, the staff are very chatty and the space is child friendly as it is non-smoking and alcohol-free. It sells nonalcoholic Asahi beer, tropical fruit juices (¥300 or an additional ¥100 with sets) as well as soft drinks served out of glass bottles, the kind that make me nostalgic for the sunny English beer gardens I visited with my family as a wee lad — yes it is sometimes sunny in the U.K.
Om Nom Nom’s attention to detail means that many dishes, which may otherwise be thought of as simple or plain, are elevated to become delicious delicacies: the handmade sour cream has a slight tang to it, the salsa is crisp and sharp, the guacamole is perfectly soft.
If you’re looking for a rowdy night out, the lack of alcohol at Om Nom Nom may not make it Nagoya’s most suitable restaurant, but if you are after a bit of variety, or have a taste for chili, this really is one of the best spots in the city.
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