Opened early this year as NOJO Tavern at Central’s flashy new H Code building, it was the restaurant’s chicken broth (paitan) ramen that garnered gushing reviews.
Still offering that same creamy, luscious paitan-style ramen, the eatery – part of Japan’s trendy F&B group AP Company – has now been rebranded as NOJO Ramen x Izakaya, featuring more than 50 popular izakaya delicacies, from tsumami (snacks to eat with sake) to sashimi.
Notably, buzzy NOJO is open until either 2am or 3am most nights of the week, and we all know that ramen is one of the best late-night eats out there, soaking up any alcohol damage and providing a hearty dose of comfort.
We love the dark yet inviting feel of NOJO, with its open kitchen, communal wooden tables and open-fronted windows beckoning us in.
We recently headed to NOJO to check out the new menu. Here are the highlights:
We started our evening at cool and cosy sake specialist SAKETEN, tucked in just behind NOJO, for a flight of sake paired with some lovely Japanese-inspired bar bites. Of these, our favourite match-up was the Taruzake Futsushu sake ($130/90ml; $340/270ml; $810/bottle) – full-flavoured, dry and super smooth – paired with the uni and Wagyu sushi cracker ($68 for single snack). The combo of top-notch beef with sea urchin is a decadent one, and we also really liked SAKETEN’s freshly grilled sushi rice crackers, which provide a nice balance to the richer toppings. Other sushi cracker options include ikura (salmon roe) and avocado and unagi (eel) and courgette.
Opened by “Sake Samurai” Elliot Faber (who also founded Sake Central), SAKETEN showcases a curated selection of sake from 10 breweries – hence its name – that are rotated on a seasonal basis. Sake bottles are available for purchase to take away, and SAKETEN also offers sake on draught – one of the few bars outside Japan to do so.
From 5–8pm on Monday–Saturday, you can head to SAKETEN for a complimentary snack on the house alongside your Japanese beer or sake. It’s a great little spot for an aperitif pre-dinner to get you in a Japanese frame of mind.
Potato salad with smoked salmon and salmon roe ($68): this tsumami woke up our taste buds with its salty, savoury flavours, and we could’ve popped a few more of these bad boys without batting an eyelid. Anyone who has been to a 7-Eleven or Lawson in Japan knows that Japanese-style potato salad rocks.
Bagna càuda in Kyoto-style miso ($78): another tsumami, this was simple yet fun to eat – freshly cut, crunchy veggies are dipped into a mild white miso sauce, which is kept warm in a mini fondue pot via tea light.
Overnight sake-lees-, soy- and ginger-marinated fried chicken ($88): it’s hard to go wrong with golden brown fried chicken, and NOJO does a mean version. The sake lees, soy and ginger brine makes for a very flavourful, succulent chook.
Soy sauce chicken ramen ($138) and spicy minced chicken tossed noodles ($123): these two dishes both feature the same toothsome, chewy noodles, but they couldn’t be more different. The first is soaked in a comforting, rich and creamy chicken broth base, while the second is dry, with the added ingredients providing the spicy sauce once mixed all together (when it’s not as pretty to look at). We enjoyed both, so it just depends on what you’re in the mood for. The garnishes are all excellent, especially the glistening, juicy chicken leg and perfectly soft-boiled egg in the chicken ramen.
We rate the vibe and the food at NOJO, and the prices are reasonable considering the ingredients and surrounds. Although it’s a nice to have so much variety with the eatery’s expanded menu, we’d happily go back for bowl after bowl of that stunning soy sauce chicken ramen. Top tip: visit NOJO between 3–7pm daily for the restaurant’s “happy hour all day” promotion: four pints of beer + an agemono (deep-fried dish like tempura or fried chicken) for $350. Sit on the terrace and soak it all in. Kanpai!
NOJO Ramen x Izakaya: Shop 5 and Open Space, G/F, The Steps, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central, 2415 1333
SAKETEN: G/F, Shop 4, Lower Block, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central, 6704 2570
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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