The newest addition to the Restaurant Collection at Roosevelt Field Mall, Nomiya — which translates to ‘saloon’ — stands as the area’s first izakaya, a casual Japanese bar for hangout and snacks.
After having successfully opened Keki Modern Cakes—the bakery that single-handedly brought the viral bouncy cheesecake trend stateside—founders Ajay Chawla, Lawrence Wai and Moul Kim sought to introduce Nassau County to sophisticated East Asian fare with a unique, local spin.
A tenured sushi chef who is also trained in the art of robatayaki, Chef James Choi draws from his Korean heritage and experiences in Japanese kitchens. Robatayaki (or robata) is a Japanese method of cooking, similar to barbecue.
Choi grew up in a small South Korean town before immigrating to the United States with his family. While in his teens, he was immediately drawn to a life in kitchens, informally training under sushi chefs across Manhattan. Choi has been honing the art of sushi and robata along the journey of his culinary career.
During the COVID pandemic, Choi began creating his own menu. Conveniently, last year, his friend Chawla sprung the idea of an izakaya concept in Nassau County, and out came Nomiya—a Japanese restaurant that blends Choi’s Korean roots with his love for sushi.
The inaugural cocktail menu ($15-18) includes sake- and soju-based libations such as a sake-tini, Strawberry Dreams (soju, fresh strawberries and lemonade), Lychee Martini (soju and lychee) and Peach Sunrise Over the Rocks (soju and peach puree). You can order a variety of sake and wine by the glass or by the bottle. Beer and soda (ginger beer are also available.
Sake is a Japanese fermented rice wine. Soju is a Korean distilled alcoholic beverage, made from rice and usually consumed neat.
The appetizer menu at Nomiya features what can be deemed Japanese guacamole in the form of Nomiya’s signature Avocado Bomb. Chef Choi envelops spicy tuna in thin slices of avocado, then serves the ‘bomb’ atop a bed of tempura flakes and house made ube and lotus chips. There are cold and hot options available on the appetizer/small plate choices. Try the spicy tuna crispy rice (five pieces of spicy tuna and avocado ball topped with jalapeno, served over crispy rice or the shishito peppers (pan-fried shishito peppers with garlic, sea salt, sesame oil and bonito flakes). At first glance, you might be put off by the shishito peppers, but they are delicious and are comparable in taste and heat to a green bell pepper.
Dish entrees include teriyaki (chicken, beef or vegetable) that is sautéed with carrots, onion and zucchini in a house teriyaki sauce and the Korean short ribs (barbecued beef short ribs smothered in a Korean sweet and savory marinade). But not to be missed is the miso black cod (Alaskan black cod that has been pan-seared in a mild, but flavorful house made miso marinade and served with sautéed asparagus).
Of course, if you are in the mood for sushi, sashimi, nigiri, omakase or specialty roll, there are dozens to choose from.
Choi is a stickler for the seafood quality.
The advice: be adventurous here. Several of the dishes include spicy tuna which are surprisingly good. Nothing is overly spicy, but the heat can be adjusted to order. The chef will make any dish a little less spicy than usual if requested, as well as amping the heat up if you think you can handle it.
There are kid-friendly items on the menu, such as dumplings and California rolls.
Nomiya has a seating capacity of 75, as well as outdoor seating. Inspired by the Japanese philosophy of minimalism, the interior is split between a hickory-accented bar and windowed dining room framed by black granite walls.
The waitstaff are attentive, friendly, hospitable and knows the menu like second nature. It’s especially important for a place like Nomiya, in the location that it’s in. It’s such a high-visibility location, amongst some of the top-hitters of Roosevelt Field’s Restaurant Collection which includes Tom Colicchio’s Small Batch, Altamarea Group’s Osteria Morini and a half dozen other popular dining venues. Nomiya is located on the west side of Roosevelt Field Mall (630 Old Country Rd., in Garden City), immediately next door to Havana Central. It occupies the space that used to be Skinny Pizza and an adjoining tailor shop for what now offers a cozy dining experience.
There is ample parking at Roosevelt Field Mall, including self-park, garage and valet.
Nomiya is open noon to 10 p.m. daily.
Visit www.nomiyastation.com for the menu.