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Nicholas Gilman is a renowned journalist and food writer based in Mexico City.

Nicholas Gilman es un renombrado periodista gastronómico basado en la Ciudad de México.

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Nom: Hidden and Nameless in Polanco

Nom: Hidden and Nameless in Polanco

 Lovely hamachi at Nom

Lovely hamachi at Nom

Nom Cocina Expuesta
Nom, whose name means “name,” opened to little fanfare recently. Its back alley signless location attempts to cast the place in a shroud of speakeasy-like secrecy. It is, in fact, an elegant, intimate, bar-only addition to our own chef-directed, Japan-born “omekase” scene that has, in the last couple of years taken the world by storm. Young chef Alejandro Daboub, who did a long stint in Barcelona, directs a skilled team who present a series of small dishes that make good use of what’s best at the market. The good news is that pretension, which can easily rear its ugly head in this context, does not enter the picture—well not often, anyway. Dishes, when left to simplicity, are eminently likeble. While multi-national in scope, Japan is lovingly acknowledged: a sashimi of hamachi augmented by a light yuzu sauce was a standout on a recent visit, for example. But everything else is generally contemporary pan-Euro albeit shrewdly handled. A shard of Alaska king crab leg is served filled with its own sweet, chopped flesh and just a dab of caviar—fun eating. Sous-vide octopus, lightly seared, reclines on a cloud of pureed cauliflower; it’s done right but has become an over used fine-dining comfort dish, as has short rib. I'd like to see a more adventurous approach. A much touted waffle topped with foie gras and a grating of black truffle did not trump its poor IHOP cousins; the “elite meets the hoi polloi” aspiration of this dish didn’t quite work out. And, as Groucho Marx might have recounted, “dessert was memorable; I wish I could remember it.” But all this will change as the menu morphs with the season and the cooks become comfortable in their new home.

 “Boutique” Mexican wines are expertly selected and pairing is correct. Go for the maridaje.

All said, Nom is there for a good time; the last evening I attended, the other 15 diners (16 is the limit) seemed happily engaged and genuinely surprised. This kitchen is in its infancy and needs refining. But it’s almost there. It’s a dining experience that challenges but doesn’t condescend.

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Nom Cocina Expuesta
Alejandro Dumas 125 (behind the lightbulb)
Reservations: 8434-3888, reservas@restaurantenom.com or WhatsApp: (55)7859-5212

Open Tuesday – Saturday, 1:45 to 5:00 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, 7:30 p.m. to midnight, closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evening

Menu Omakase comida (4/5 courses): $590, includes a glass of wine or beerMenu Omakase cena 9/10 courses): $980 - without pairing, + maridaje $580

Alache: As Good as it Looks (closed)

Alache: As Good as it Looks (closed)

Roots: A Mexican Chef Embraces His Chinese Ancestry

Roots: A Mexican Chef Embraces His Chinese Ancestry