Setting the Bar for Japanese-inspired Cuisine
If you love Japanese food, then you know that ingredients and preparation matter. Sushi is a very particular food, from the taste of the seaweed to the cut of the fresh fish—details matter. Anthony Fowler, director of operations at Nama Sushi Bar, is well aware of this. To him, details and presentation are much more than an afterthought: they’re everything.
“My philosophy on ingredients is this: make them as fresh and as clean as possible,” Fowler says. “I only use the freshest fish. We work with whole salmon and whole tuna—we break it down. That’s what people are impressed with when they come here: freshness.”
For Fowler and his staff, quality is held to the highest of standards. For example, most of the sauces you’ll taste are made in-house.
“Every cut, everything we do, we make it beautiful,” Fowler says.
It’s important that his chefs are trained specifically, and he’s happy to surround himself with a passionate staff.
“Everyone really, really cares about what they’re making; it’s the best quality we could ask for,” Fowler says.
And, although he is a stickler for detail, he likes to see some individuality in his staff. There’s no uniform, and front-of-the-house workers can dress in their own presentable styles at work. He encourages chefs to play with new recipes for the menu, and if they do well, they become staples. Although 70 percent of the menu is still from the original, new and different dishes pop up routinely as they’re created. While some sushi bars are more traditional, Nama Sushi Bar provides both traditional sushi, if that’s what you want, and exciting variety for the more adventurous.
Something else Fowler wants you to know? Nama Sushi Bar may be, well, a sushi bar, but there’s far more than that on the menu. Under the Hot Nama portion of the menu, there are options like beef tips, pork tenderloin, yellowtail seared in truffle oil and other hot dishes. For those who don’t want to eat raw fish, there are plenty of cooked and vegetarian delights to sample. There’s also a full bar, complete with flavored sake and almost any cocktail you could think of.
Fowler’s penchant for detail and presentation has paid off, and it’s continuing to: Nama Sushi bar began as a small joint in downtown Knoxville, and there are now two full-service restaurants in Knoxville. Since then, he’s opened two restaurants in the Nashville area, and he plans to open at least two or three more in Middle Tennessee. He said he’ll be hiring in the upcoming future, and while loving sushi isn’t a requirement, attention to quality and detail are essential for his staff members.
The dessert menu is equally impressive, whether you’re in the mood for tempura bananas or mochi ice cream balls. Don’t be surprised if your dessert (or sushi) is adorned with a decorative chocolate-sauce pattern, a palm frond or other edible accompaniments, as Fowler’s dedication to presentation is evident the instant your food arrives at the table. If you love Japanese food, or even if you don’t, this joint is a must-try, as it sets the bar incredibly high for Japanese cuisine in Brentwood.
“There’s more than just sushi. Under the Hot Nama portion of the menu, there are a variety of other dishes and flavors. There are beef tips, pork tenderloin, fish and more. The chef’s featured rolls and platters do really well, too.”