For a bar that that’s fairly elusive – with its lack of a signboard and its only access being an elevator next to Huckleberry Food & Fare café to the third floor – would make one assume it to be a hidden gem, a speakeasy of sorts. Except Nomi Tomo is no such place to be called a speakeasy, as on a busy night, you’ll be doing anything but speaking easy.
The hidden gem title does fit though, having been just opened for five months since August 2015; Nomi Tomo translates to ‘Drinking Buddies’ and this sake bar is well on its way to becoming a casual spot for many regular drinking buddies. Upon entrance, the place resembles a small bar with bamboo furniture and low seats but opens up to a much larger area where refrigerators of sake bottles are kept, with a grilling area for skewers and snacks.
Long wooden tables and chairs are placed around this middle area, and each table has purpose-built stainless steel ‘drains’ where ice buckets are stored to keep the sake cold – the default and preferred way for consuming “ginjo”, or premium, sake – while hot sake is available upon request.
Do note that sake is sold by the bottle here (avg. 720ml), with close to over 90 brands of differing qualities and flavours – carafes may be introduced later; but the option to bring the bottle home or to park it at the bar is also possible should you struggle to finish an opened bottle. They would also note that sake doesn’t exactly keep and after a week or so, the flavour to how it was when first opened would’ve radically changed a week later.
And for those who can’t tell a Daiginjo from a Hojonzo, fret not, as owner Kai Zhou and his team have made ordering a bottle as newbie-proof as possible. The menu is divided into the broad categories of sake – from the super-premium Junmai Daiginjo to the table-quality Futsu-shu – with each bottle carrying a description of its flavour profile.
And if you’re still undecided, the waiters are knowledgeable enough to recommend a decent bottle based on your preferences. There is also a “wall of fame” featuring a variety of sake bottles that are personal favourites of the bar, with a ‘Nomi Rating’ and a bar distinguishing its lightness to richness and its dryness to sweetness. You could also state your preference to how strong (alcoholic content) you’d like it to be.
On that last note, keep in mind that sake is an extremely easy-going drink, fueling conversations and laughter until the wee hours of the morning – a fact that keeps this place buzzing with regulars having a good time. Our visit had us easily polishing off a few bottles of Nanbu Bijin Junmai Ginjo (RM196 for 720ml per bottle) and Sugidama Junmai Ginjo (RM225 for 720ml per bottle).
Prices for bottles start at RM125 onwards; a selection of yakitori skewers and snacks are also available.
Address: Nomi Tomo Sake Bar. 3rd Floor, No. 2 & 4, Plaza Damansara, Jalan Medan Setia 2, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.
Opening hours: 5pm – 2am (Mon-Sat)
Tel: 03 – 2011 2839