Orient Express: Nanban

Tim Anderson’s Nanban is always worth another visit

I know, for many, he is kind of persona non grata these days, but my favourite Woody Allen quote, to paraphrase, is “I live in New York as I can get Egg Foo Yung delivered to my apartment at 3 in the morning. The fact I never do is irrelevant”.

Which has always seemed to sum up Londoners’ attitude to London. We like all this opportunity, but we mostly ignore it. Since Brixton exploded with places to eat, ditto, at times, my attitude to local dining. I love all the variety (in principle) but as I walk through the door of Tim Anderson’s Nanban, I realise its been at least a couple of years.

Anderson, non-self-appointed poster boy for Brixton pop-up goes perma-site, as I am sure he gets bored of reading, is the MasterChef Professionals winning “offbeat” chef fusing classic Japanese dining with flavours of Brixton. Japanese soul food as he calls it. With something off-piste and seasonal flirting through the menu. Like the tongue in cheek “Third best Scotch Egg in London”, tea pickled egg wrapped in pork mince with Scotch bonnet bamboo shoots and garlic chips, panko breadcrumbed with tonkatsu sauce. Tim likes tea-pickling eggs.

Scotch egg and cocktails is a good combo and Nanban do some nice cocktail creations. Pink Lady, Bombay Sapphire, shochu, fresh raspberries, lychee juice, apple juice, lemon alongside a Gimlet, Bombay Sapphire and sweetened lime juice, straight up. The egg is good, super-crispy with a soft(ish) yolk and interesting spicy twinges.

There is also an impressive (for a local place) menu of sakes, and “how so new South-London” that our choice was Kanpai sake, created in that hotbed of Japanese brewing, downtown Peckham.

The Nanban menu is a fusion of snackery, small plates and main courses to pick through. We had perky Hanetsuki Gyoza, sachets of dry-aged pork gyoza with crispy ‘wings’ alongside the scotch egg, then shared some big plates – Tom Yum seafood ramen, lemongrass and lime leaf broth, thin noodles, king prawns, mussels, squid, bean sprouts, seafood sawdust, fresh lime and chilli oil and Tuna Poke, sashimi grade raw tuna with wakame, Maui onions, macadamia nuts, yuzu-pickled radish, gem lettuce, sesame oil and sweet ponzu, served with crispy gyoza pastry and edible flowers.

There are some interesting flavours living here, the tuna tartare is the star of Mrs B’s fusion salad and my ‘signature’ ramen is exactly the warming, spicy, fragrant and meaty seafood big broth that would warm everybody and anybody from Brixton supper clubbers to a dock worker in Osaka. With a tea pickled egg of course. Homely.

Nanban is the kind of place you can pop into for a quick, price friendly supper (or lunch) or you can push the boat out a bit. Its user-friendly, with what I assume is classic Japanese cuisine, interestingly pimped with flavours of Brixton market. Tempura okra was the special tonight.

Deep down the food here is reassuring rather than avant garde but if you want a chunky ramen in Brixton, Tim Anderson is still your go-to guy.

426 Coldharbour Lane, SW9, 8LF | 020 7346 0098 | nanban.co.uk | @NanbanLondon