Nopa

Nopa is one of those restaurants whose name feels like it is constantly being thrown around in San Francisco. Even if you’ve never been or don’t even know what style cuisine they serve, if you live in San Francisco, chances are you have at least heard the name.

When my mom told me we had reservations during the one week I was back for Thanksgiving, I immediately got even more excited to return home. As I churned through the final weeks and days of school before Thanksgiving break, Nopa began to represent to me everything and everything food-related that I missed about San Francisco and home. With all of these ideas and expectations running through my mind, I am surprised that Nopa managed to meet my expectations. The dinner was tasty, though the dishes ranged from those phenomenally great to those that were just good. The ambiance and design of the restaurant alone, however, I think are worth a visit and the price of the meal.

A note – one thing I kind of loved about Nopa were the more quirky dishes on their menu, though they may not be everyone’s cup of tea. A young couple sitting next to us  did not love the dishes that we lovingly devoured . While everyone may not agree, having complex dishes that involve peculiar ingredients like duck gizzard feels distinctly San Francisco to me, and I loved it.

Josh @ Nopa, perusing the scene

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Grass fed Hamburger – probably, almost definitely the juiciest burger I have ever tasted. (Sorry, Dad, your freshly-ground burgers are almost as good.)

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Piggy platter – trotter terrine, smoked ternderloin and liver mousse.

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Avocado salad, pickled beets, clementine, almonds, and sesame seeds.

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Fried Sardines with Romesco.

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Grilled Bread, Duck Gizzard Confit, carrot hummus, pickled jalapeño and persimmon.

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Flatbread of spicy fennel sausage, butternut squash, olives and crescenza.

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Country Pork chop, potatoes, brussel sprouts, mustard and grapes. The pork chop was divinely moist (extraordinarily) and my dad is to this day still speculating as to how they created it.

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Seared duck breast, sauerkraut, carrots, golden raisins and wild arugula.

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Morrocan vegetable tagine, toasted almonds, lemon yogurt.

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I ran a 5k the next morning. If that is what I have to do to stay alive and eat meals like this every day, consider it a done deal.

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nom.

There are a lot of things I have eaten and photographed that I should and need to talk about. I’m going to start with nom.

Ever since I learned about Nom., the student run restaurant at Yale, I have wanted to try it.  I finally organized myself and booked a reservation – unbeknownst to me, I booked a reservation for their last open day.

The pop-up restaurant is located in Davenport College’s buttery, and nom. made use of all of the space there was to offer, using both the kitchen and the buttery countertop, and filling all of the remaining space with tables and chairs for customers. I went in a group of four people and we ordered virtually everything on the menu. The dishes are small, tapas-style.

The flavors were great and the ideas were fresh. Although the execution was not always perfect, the food and the restaurant as a whole far exceeded my expectations for what is a student-run restaurant out of a basement. This kind of idea and project is what makes me oh-so proud and happy to be a part of the Yale community. It is also embodies what makes the Yale experience so yummy – a pervasive passion for food.

We started with a bunch of small dishes (think banchan style, the smorgasbord of small dishes that precede a traditional Korean meal). These included:

The kimchi carbonara

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The tsukune slider – chicken-mushroom burger, red miso, papaya-daikon slaw

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The glazed eggplant

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The tom yum tacos – shrimp, coconut tom yum sauce, mushroom soil, lime

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The chopped chicken salad

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The Cantonese pork belly

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And The nom khao (Laotian fried rice ball)

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The best were by far the Cantonese pork belly and the nom khao. Although the rice of the pork belly was a bit hard and undercooked, the flavors were spot-on. We ordered more and extra of the nom khao to fill our bellies. The glazed eggplant was also a hit, as were the tsukune sliders. The chopped chicken salad was my least favorite.

For dessert, we all split a hodge podge which consisted of frozen pound cake, mixed berry compote, greek yogurt, coconut, nutella, and more. How could you not like?

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We accompanied our meal with yujacha soda, made of Korean citron tea and homemade soda. I loved it, though my dining companions were less keen on it. I grew up with citron tea, however, and already love those flavors.

Overall, my thoughts: nom.

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