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.
KCBS Foodie Chap Podcast:
Nombe Ramenburger™ (credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
Pork belly (soy sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger, scallions)
Yellow onions, rice vinegar, sugar, salt
Mizuna/arugula, wasabi, egg, sugar, salt, oil
Cucumber, shio koji
Blue cheese/ cheddar cheese
Bacon/ shiitake, butter
Miso, soy sauce, sugar
Here You Go:
1. Cook pork belly with all the ingredients covering the belly, over night, low heat.
2. Make shio koji pickles. Slice cucumber and mix it with shio koji over night.
3. Make patty – Mince pork belly and mix it with ground Kobe beef (50/50) to make patty
4. Make aioli – mix egg, salt, sugar oil and slice shiitake, sautee with butter and salt.”
5. Make wasabi then mix with aioli
6. Make miso sauce – mix miso and sugar
7. Make shoyu sauce – mix soy sauce and sugar
8. Make vinegared onions – slice onions, caramelized and soak in rice vinegar, sugar & salt
9 Fry bacon
10. Make buns – cook ramen noodles, chill them, cook them in frying pan to shape the noodles to become buns.
11. Cook bacon
12. Slice tomatoes
Prep is done!
13. Cook patty to your liking, put cheese etc. you like – cheddar, blue cheese, bacon, shiitake…
14. Toss mizuna/arugula with wasabi aioli.
15. Place bun and put arugula, tomato, pickled cucumber, patty, sauce of your choice, then the bun.
We have a combination of bacon, cheddar, and shoyu sauce or blue cheese, butter shiitake, and miso sauce.