Nakamura.ke is special. Every so often a pop-up restaurant concept hits Los Angeles that breaks through the static and changes the game. This is one of those concepts, but to simply call it a pop-up restaurant doesn’t do it justice. It’s an immersive dining experience that leaves you drooling for more.
Out of This World
When I heard Nakamura.ke earned an extended run in Los Angeles following sold-out stints in Atlanta and Charlotte, I knew I had to go. After puffing an Aster Farms Outer Space pre-roll (it seemed like a fitting smoke to pre-game eating luminescent food) my Weed+Grub podcast co-host Mary Jane Gibson and I hopped in an Uber, and blazed through the bending streets of the Hollywood Hills towards Nakamura.ke’s shipping-container-turned-restaurant on the grounds of the famed Yamashiro Restaurant, where we were treated to the most gorgeous view of the City of Angels.
After confirming we’d ordered the “Omotenashi” VIP Chef Experience, we were handed ice cold sake mules, courtesy of Nakamura.ke’s partnership with Hiro Sake. They were sweet, limey, and boozy, and as we sipped them standing beside an 8-foot-tall grinning Golden Buddha while watching the sunset, we felt transported to another dimension.
A Portal to Another Dimension
The story behind Nakamura.ke is beautiful. As we were led through the underbelly of Yamashiro, through a secret staircase in the kitchen and down a glowing red hallway towards our meal, we were stopped briefly by our guide, who told us the tale of why these sumptuous bowls of ramen brightly glow.
The tale goes something like: “The creator of lumen-ramen had a dream one night that there was a storm. A family was separated by the storm, and now they’re looking for each other. As they seek one another out, the closer they get to rejoining their family and the people they love, the food they cook glows brighter. It comes to life.” Pure theater!
After this story, Mary Jane let out a little gasp. We both felt how fortunate we were to experience this literal dream come true.
An Interstellar Experience
Before we even got inside the tiny shipping container that houses Nakumura.ke, we could smell the bubbly, fatty 10-hour ramen broth waiting to be ladled into our bowls. It immediately turned my cottonmouth into a saliva swimming pool (Gross? Maybe, but so true.)
We were greeted by upbeat chefs who got sake shots flowing while our specialty drinks were prepared. Mary Jane indulged in a Nakamura Arashi (Josen sake, Roku Gin, cherry brandy, coconut milk and viola flower) that looked like it tasted: sexy AF. I sipped a Noroi (Barley Honkaku Shochu, Yuzu Umeshu Benedictine, yuzu juice shish, basil, and lime leaves) that made me glow like the drink itself.
By now, our bellies were black holes of hunger. And the luminescent bowls of noodles that arrived in front of us were mind-altering. The whole tiny space went silent, except for slurping sounds of ecstasy. It felt like a food-porn acid trip.
We shared the exotic Tsukemen (tonkotsu lumen broth, lumen shoyu tare, blue lumen noodles, braised pork belly, scallions, tonkotsu fat, bamboo shoots, fish cake, katsuobushi) and the classic Asahikawa (tonkotsu broth, lumen shoyu tare, green lumen noodles, tiger prawn, gyoza, crispy chicken skin, smoked pork fat, napa cabbage, shiitake mushroom, pickled ginger). #WTFisThisLife
Back to Reality, Almost
We didn’t want the delectable experience to end, and lucky for us it didn’t have to. Nakamura.ke has partnered with the debaucherous Disco Dining Club to create Yomi’s Saloon, which is billed as:
“The underworld’s only bar where the dead and the living co-exist. Welcome sinners, cowboys, soldiers, lumberjacks, miners and gamblers. Welcome those with a soul and those who left their soul in the realm of the living. Welcome home.”
We sipped glowstick-colored cocktails wrapped in plumes of sage smoke, and recapped the noodle-filled night while slowly returning to Earth. Grab your own tickets for an out-of-this-world experience, spark a fatty up before you go, and enjoy the trip.
Nakamura.ke extended their LA stay until August 11th. Get tickets here.
Mike Glazer is an Emmy-nominated comedian who graduated from culinary school, and is obsessed with his podcast Weed+Grub.