12 May 2020
11th April 2019
Nanban, Brixton: restaurant review
The pitch: Ramen and Kyushu ‘soul food’ with south London flavourings
Review: Nanban, run by JET alumni (ALT in Kitakyushu) and Masterchef 2011 Winner Tim Anderson, opened in 2015. It is one of a number of Japanese restaurants in Brixton, south London, that include Okan and KOI-Ramen Bar and is similarly always busy. It’s not your usual ramen-ya – which seem to be all over London and more and more popular throughout the UK – offering a bit more than miso and shoyu for your ordinary bowl of noodle-based shiawase. This south London cocktails-and-Kyushu diner, of which Guardian food critic Jay Rayner is a big fan, offers locally inspired twists such as Lazy Goat Ragu-men as their signature dish: slow-cooked boneless goat leg and thick noodles in a rich Indo-Caribbean curry sauce, topped with seafood sawdust, fried shallots, Scotch bonnet-pickled bamboo shoots, and a tea-pickled egg.
Nanban, meaning southern barbarian, tries ‘to celebrate the barbaric side of Japanese cuisine, spotlighting the foreign influence on Japanese food and incorporating the international flavours of Brixton Market into a unique brand of Japanese soul food (sic)’. There's also an impressive drinks menu of cocktails and beers, as well as some potent looking shochu. The Lazy Goat Ragu-men isn’t your typical ramen; it’s almost like an Italian-style thick meat sauce with pasta and the dish is very fragrant, pungent and spicy. It’s not for the ramen purist but definitely worth jumping on the Victoria line for a visit to see a pretty original twist on that simple fayre beloved of many a JET alumni, with plenty of familiar things to order such as gyoza, yaki-udon, chicken-karaage and so on, often with a similar Jamaican take.
Point of note: Lazy Goat Ragu-men was the number 1 must eat dish of 2018 in Time Out’s 100 best dishes in London, after Nanban was voted best restaurant in Brixton in 2016!
Cost: Lazy Goat Ragu-men £16, small plates like edamame from £4 to beef tataki at £11.90
Location: 426 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London, SW9 8LF
Photo credit: Jamie Lau/TimeOut