Mari, who grew up in Yokohama, Japan, worked for several multi-billion-dollar American bio-tech and high-tech companies traveling all over the world before changing her career. She moved on to open her catering company, Mari’s Catering, Inc., which is specialized in Japanese and California cuisine in 2004 to satisfy the needs of on-site Sushi chef catering. With Gil, Mari opened Sozai Restaurant and Sake Lounge, voted Best Japanese Food San Francisco by Citysearch in 2008.
Nombe opened in 2009. Mari initially served as Nombe’s Managing Culinary Director, but is now Executive Chef as well. Nombe received Top 100 honors from the SF Chronicle in 2010, a Michelin Recommended acknowledgement in 2011, an SF Bay Guardian Best of the Bay Editor’s Pick in 2013, and was named one of the Top 6 Izakaya (Japanese gastropub) restaurants in the US by Bon Appetit.
Mari’s husband Gil, a SAKE master runs the restaurant with her so it is very much a family affair. NOMBE is popular for many reasons, for some the sixty plus SAKE options but in particular it’s NOMBE RAMEN BURGER- the “can’t take it off the menu item”. When the burger debuted in June 2013 it was an instant hit. Soon after it was served at the SF Street Food Festival there were lines around the block,
Gil and Mari will be serving the Ramen burger at the OUTSIDE LANDS MUSIC FOOD FESTIVAL (Aug 8th – 10th). “We expect it to be popular” says Gil. It will also be offered at the SF Street Food Festival (August 16th). So, do yourself a favour a make a stop at the NOMBE stand at one of the upcoming festivals or pay them a visit at their Valencia Street home. Nombe – Japanese cuisine cooked with a nod to California, coupled with flair and a whole lot of heart.
Enjoy the conversation and the recipe below.
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