BULL STREET now has the one of the best versions of a new generation of sushi: poke bowls.
Originating in Hawaii, a poke bowl usually features a layer of rice, sushi-grade fish, vegetables, a sauce, and seasoning such as sesame seeds or flake salt.
In a seaside town, it should be relatively easy to find high quality fresh fish. When the waters are right, Savannah has a plethora of shrimp.
However, until this month, when Nom Nom Poke Shop opened its doors, downtown Savannah was still lacking in a steady supply of non-fried seafood.
Now sitting on the corner of Bull and West 35th Streets in the heart of Starland is a restaurant that markets raw fish so fresh it tastes as if you just caught it.
Owners Ashley Mumbray and Harold Schroeter are partners in life and partners in fusion food. They planned and saved for approximately three years before finally opening the doors to their dream: Nom Nom Poke Shop.
The dream required a lot of hard work and preparation, and the duo worked in the industry for years before finally making it out on their own.
Mumbray says, “We both came from food and beverage. He went to culinary school and I served, managed, bartended.”
After initially settling on another location, the couple landed on a bustling portion of Bull Street after the first spot fell through. A little bit of elbow grease and help from their generous landlord and the corner store was completely transformed.
The quaint space is bright and warm, and it all comes from the brain of Mumbray. White walls, an adorning antique tin ceiling, and a large frame of preserved moss creates the perfect spot downtown to grab a cold kombucha, sit with a few friends, and overfill on fresh food.
As for back of house, that is all Schroeter.
“He was the sole creator of the entire menu. We know a lot of Chefs, just because we worked in the industry before this, so he did have his friends that are Chefs taste things. If they said things can be tweaked here or tweaked there, he made it better.”
The poke shop’s mantra is simple: deliver the best ingredients through responsible sources. Many of their purveyors are as local as local can get, including Vertical Roots Farm, Ebenezer Greens, Vertu Farms, and Russo’s Seafood.
The non-local fish is flown in fresh every morning. The tuna is from Hawaii, which makes the most sense considering Nom Nom is a Hawaiian and Japanese poke shop.
Mumbray and Schroeter are extremely proud of their fish, especially the salmon. As Mumbray explains, they practice responsible sourcing.
“Our salmon is from Skuna Bay. Skuna Bay practices open ocean beds, so it is farm raised but farm raised done right. It allows their salmon to grow in their natural habitat. Their diet is very well maintained, they are not fed things they shouldn’t be.”
Schroeter explains that the quality of their ingredients and products is a priority. Every morning the kitchen staff prepares the ingredients, sauces, and fish to ensure only the best bowl is present to each and every customer.
The reasonably sized menu features two small snacks: Ahi Tuna Nachos and Guacamole & Pineapple Salsa, which would both be perfect starters.
There is a slew of Signature Bowls, meticulously designed by Schroeter, and a daily special bowl.
“We try to switch [the specials] up daily. The other day we had a special which was our rainbow bowl. The rainbow bowl had our B-line snapper which was local, the ahi tuna, and tuna bay salmon. It was three fish in one dish and sold really well,” Mumbray says.
One of their Signatures, the Spicy Tuna Crunch has become a fast seller in Nom Nom’s short time open.
“The Spicy Tuna Crunch is our number one seller. Out of every bowl, that [bowl] sells ten times more than any other bowl,” Mumbray says.
My husband ordered the Seared Beef Bowl, and I quickly gained bowl envy. Although a fresh fish specialty shop, the seared beef stood up the quality seafood.
The kitchen takes marinated beef tenderloin, gives it a quick hard sear, then pairs it with guacamole, pineapple salsa, fried shallots, and watercress. All of it sits atop a bed a fresh steamed rice.
I personally leaned towards the Make Your Own bowl option. The ability to overwhelm your bowl with any number of the daily prepped and prepared ingredients is too difficult to resist.
My choice in protein, tuna, was a no brainer but choosing a sauce proved most difficult. I suggest paying the extra change and getting a few extra sauces to try them all.
The sauces (and the fish) are what sets Nom Nom apart from its competitors. As Schroeter puts it, “It is a lot of classic Japanese. A lot of really cool ingredients that people may not be using around here. For example, our tamari that we use, we are probably the only ones using it is Savannah. We get it from Chicago, and they get it from Japan.”
Schroeter put months into developing the sauces to the point that Mumbray became sick of trying each nuanced version. The result is a menu full of sauces such as the Aji Amarillo, Lemon Tamari, and Citrus Kosho. Each table has its very own bottle of house made “firewater,” a traditional Hawaiian chili pepper water.
You can create your own bowl or fill up on one of Schroeter’s creations seven days a week, from 10:30 am to 9 pm.