Out and About: Nami in Lake Nona Offers a Delicious Dining Experience

Nami in Lake Nona
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Tucked away in a corner of the Lake Nona Wave Hotel is a restaurant that is an amazing dining experience…a restaurant known as Nami.

Discreetly tucked away on the west side ground floor of the hotel, it can be found only by simple logos on the side of the building.

A short hallway brings you to the door, which then deposits you in a small sitting area with a desk to check in for your dine.

Stepping through the doorway into the main room, my first impression was understated elegance…a chic upscale room bathed in shades of beige and browns that didn’t come across as stuffy or pretentious.

Dimly lit, the room resembled an outdoor dining experience with trees wrapped in small lights hanging over various parts of the room that contained a mixture of tables and booths, as well as a bar along one wall.

Nami in Lake Nona

Nami in Lake Nona

My guest and I were seated in a curved booth and promptly greeted by our server. He gave us an overview of the menu, noted my allergies, recommended some dishes, and then got our drink order.

Upon returning, he suggested we order everything at once, and let him take care of the pace of the meal. So I put my faith in him, and did as suggested. It proved to be a good choice, as we always had food to eat, but it was never rushed nor was there a lull between dishes.

Nami in Lake Nona

Nami’s menu is primarily small plates of Japanese-influenced dishes, perfect for a light meal or for sharing several courses, which is what we did.

Our zero-proof cocktails arrived with an amuse bouche of a hummus-like dip paired with rice paper chips dusted with crushed seaweed.

I had the Scarlet, featuring Lyre’s agave, with strawberry and yuzu. It was very citrus-forward, but refreshing. My guest had the Amber, featuring Lyre’s dark cane “rum”, pineapple, mandarin, and lime leaf. Another citrus flavored drink that paired well with the food.

Nami in Lake Nona

The dip featured tahini and a swirl of ponzu sauce. It had an overall smoky, salty flavor. My guest loved it but I had to stay away from the ponzu as some contain katsuobushi which can trigger my seafood allergy.

Nami in Lake Nona

Next came a trio of small bites representing a good selection of the menu.

For the seafood fans, we tried a Lobster Donut, featuring a Lobster mousse inside a pastry that was a cross between a donut and a biscuit. My guest said it was one of her favorite Lobster dishes ever. It was light and creamy, and full of flavor.

Nami in Lake Nona

Next was the Bacon covered in Tamari and crushed peanuts. The bacon was actually more like a pork belly slice and came on a stick like a salty warm popsicle.

Nami in Lake Nona

And finally we tried the Beetroot Maki, a vegan dish featuring thin sliced beet “petals” on a roll featuring stick-cut vegetables wrapped in Nori. This was my second favorite presentation of the evening, arriving looking like three flowers on the plate, and it had a nice fresh flavor. The thinness of the beet slices made the sweetness come out a bit, which was a nice surprise.

Nami in Lake Nona

Than came the Nami Nuggets, which turned out to be Karaage-style chicken nuggets that had a perfectly crispy fried breading, and a nice saltiness.

Even better, they arrived in a wire bowl topped with a chicken head – definitely my favorite presentation of the dinner.

Nami in Lake Nona

Nami in Lake Nona

While most of the dishes were small plates, they have a few entree-sized offerings as well.

My guest went with the Ribeye, that came with Maitake mushrooms and wasabi mashed potatoes. The steak arrived simply seasoned and cooked to order, and she loved it. However she wasn’t a fan of wasabi, so I switched the asparagus with koji hollandaise I had ordered on the side for her Wasabi mashed potatoes because I loved it. We both enjoyed the asparagus, as well.

Nami in Lake Nona

Nami in Lake Nona

Nami in Lake Nona

I went with the Crispy Pork Katsu, a thin cutlet breaded and fried, similar to the chicken, It was served with a cabbage slaw featuring Japanese mustard, and two sauces – an applesauce and a Japanese BBQ sauce (this I wasn’t a fan off). I found the dish delicious, especially when a happy accident found me dipping my pork slice into the potatoes instead of the applesauce because I wasn’t paying attention. I’m definitely ordering these two again. Yum!

Nami in Lake Nona

We finished our meal with selections from Nami’s small dessert menu.

My guest went with the dish simply called “Banana” that not only featured that flavor throughout the dish, but came with what looked like a small banana, but was actually a banana cake. It was delicious and we enjoyed the whimsical presentation.

Nami in Lake Nona

I ordered the panna cotta dessert, and sadly it was my least favorite dish of the evening. The panna cotta was accompanied by meringue wafers, lychee, and red berries, and there’s a whole presentation when it arrives at the table.

The server dips a rose into a small metal pitcher of liquid nitrogen, freezing it. Then you’re asked to clap the held rose, dropping the petals onto the dessert.

Visually it’s a fun presentation, even romantic, but I found myself having to pick the rose petals out of my dessert before I could eat it, as the flavor didn’t go with the panna cotta’s.

Nami in Lake Nona

But other than that small misfire, our meal was amazing, the service was friendly and impeccable (the servers worked as a team bringing out food to the guests, including us), and the atmosphere was wonderful – even the music playing was at the right level you could still comfortably hear others at your table talking. The curved wood slats throughout the ceiling helped to funnel sound so others talking at nearby tables didn’t disturb your meal either.

Nami in Lake Nona

I would say a visit to Nami was more of a dining experience instead of just a meal. Details, from little to big, seem to have been attended to throughout the evening unobtrusively, and the food was just the star.

I also enjoyed the Japanese-influenced art that popped up on everything from menus to the door.

Nami in Lake Nona

Nami in Lake Nona

I would highly recommend Nami, even if you just come sit at the bar for a plate or two and some drinks. Or splurge and book the Chef’s Counter, located in a separate room, where the Michelin-Star Chef Freddy Money and Chef Jason Beliveau.offer a 20-bite tasting menu.

Nami in Lake Nona

We plan on returning, as well, to sample more of the menu..

As I mentioned, Nami is located in the Lake Nona Wave Hotel and features both valet parking at the restaurant’s entrance or self-parking in a garage opposite the hotel’s entrance.

Arrive early to enjoy a walk through the hotel’s sculpture garden, and maybe grab a drink in the hotel’s whimsically decorated lobby after your meal.

Sculpture Garden at Lake Nona Wave Hotel

There is a dress code, but it’s not draconian. Simply look nice – no ripped clothing, flip flops, ball caps, etc.

Nami is open for dinner seatings only, Tuesday through Saturday, and reservations are highly recommended.

Full menus, including a small late night menu, can be found at the restaurant’s website at NamiLakeNona.com, where you can also make online reservations.

Lake Nona Wave Hotel


Disclaimer: CSO was invited to experience Nami as media. As always, my review is honest, and my own.


 

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