First dates are one of the world’s greatest wonders. Much like Stonehenge and all-inclusive family vacations, they’re a ton of work to coordinate and prepare for, and they’re usually kind of a letdown once you get there. Besides sustaining at least an hour of conversation with someone you likely have almost nothing in common with, you also have to pick a place to meet that’s dark enough to will any semblance of a spark into existence, but casual enough that the server won’t ask you if you’re celebrating anything special, rendering both of you speechless.
Nunu is a Japanese izakaya in Fishtown that’s equal parts sexy lounge and casual bar with food, and it works really well for a low-key first date - whether it’s just for drinks or a full meal. We say “sexy lounge” not because we’re club promoters making a loud and obnoxious poster to put up on every telephone pole in the city, but because there’s really no better way to describe it. Everything is red, from the lighting and two-person booths built into the wall to the Japanese lanterns hanging above the bar, and it feels like a place that should have a DJ booth in the corner and bartenders taken from the cast of a poorly-produced Bravo show. Fortunately, the music is generally a good mix of Destiny’s Child and other early 2000s songs that you can easily talk over, and the bartenders aren’t bathing in a sea of Axe body spray.
While none of the food at Nunu will cause you to tell your friends to eat here immediately, it’s perfectly fine for a casual dinner at the bar. There are a range of small plates like hot wings with tahini and cucumber and $3 yakitori skewers, along with a few larger items like katsu sandwiches and curry plates. The pork katsu “sando” is probably our favorite thing here - half because of the fluffy milk bread and the cabbage coleslaw it’s topped with, and half because the fries it comes with taste just like the ones from McDonald’s (in a very good way). There are other things we don’t love, though, and on a menu with only about 15 dishes, everything counts. The beef tartare, for example, has a little too much happening on it with mustard and kimchi, and the yakitori skewers are very hit or miss.
So the next time you’re chatting with someone on whatever app you use to find suitable life partners, suggest meeting them at Nunu. You’ll likely have a perfectly fine meal, some good drinks, and even the choice to sit outside in the little alley between Nunu and Cheu next door. And if it doesn’t go as well as you’d like, you can always bring home your leftovers and watch a Netflix documentary about the seven wonders of the world on your couch.
These are very hot and they come with tahini sauce, but it’s buried under the wings and there isn’t much of it. If there was more sauce to dull the heat of the wings, we’d be more into these.
You get six skewers, plus sometimes they throw in an extra dish, like chicken liver mousse toast, which can vary from just okay to great. Our favorites are the thigh and scallion and the scallop, but you don’t get a choice of which ones come with the tasting sadly.
A pretty boring tartare on toast with kimchi and mustard. Not a must order and definitely not the best thing to try to eat on a date.
Raw tuna held together with some horseradish and served with rice crackers that look like Pottery Barn packing peanuts. Fortunately, they taste much better than those and this dish is definitely something you should get.
One of our favorite things on the menu. It comes on fluffy white milk bread with cabbage coleslaw and a side of fries that we’re pretty sure are straight from McDonalds. You can choose chicken, pork, or an Impossible patty on this, and they’re all equally delicious.