The hitmakers behind restaurants like Her Name Is Han now have a yakitori restaurant in Nomad, a casual spot called Nonono.
The more than 70-seat, bilevel restaurant at 118 Madison Ave. at East 30th Street opened earlier this month, with rustic wood tables, floor-to-ceiling windows, and lots of modern, hanging globe lights. Though company Hand Hospitality and its owner Kihyun Lee have more recently gained acclaim for Korean projects, Nonono serves Japanese fare — more in line with their longtime Midtown restaurant Izakaya Mew.
Head chef Daichi Tokuda, in fact, worked at Izakaya Mew before helping to develop the menu here, helped by yakitori chef Akira Kishimoto and sous Kazu Moriyama, according to general manager Keisuke Oku. Yakitori is the main event. The restaurant receives whole chickens every day, and like at other yakitori spots, the team splits much of it into skewers: thigh, wings, skin, knee cartilage, heart, neck meat, and other offal and non-offal options ranging from $3 to $4. The bones then go toward making chicken broth-based ramen, available three different ways. “We don’t waste any part,” Oku says.
But the menu goes far beyond skewers, with a long menu with pristine food photos that displays a wide range of options including sushi rolls, cream curry udon, chicken wings with a pork dumpling stuffing, grilled romaine, and a dish called dragon ball that includes grilled beef, a tofu sauce, and quail eggs.
To counter all the meat, the cocktails employ a lot of vegetables. A daikon one includes the radish, yuzu, and plum wine, while a beet one features beets, lemon, grapefruit, and vodka. Oku says that it was a purposeful way to balance the proteins diners likely will eat there: “We wanted to make a healthier cocktail,” he says. Wine, beer, sake, and sochu are also available. See the full menu here.
Hand Hospitality started in 2011 with the opening of Take 31, a chic restaurant off of K-Town with inventive Korean bar food; it now has ownership in seven restaurants. Though Hand has been around for seven years and has been running popular restaurants with long waits, it’s only in the last few years that its restaurants have received more formal reviews. Her Name Is Han, serving more classical Korean fare in a stylish setting, got two stars from Eater’s Ryan Sutton earlier this year. The company is also partnered in Atoboy, a slightly upscale small plates restaurant inspired by banchan, got two stars in the Times last year.
Nonono is now open Sunday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.