Nomi Nori, a new concept by 305 Hospitality Group, landed in the Edge District of St. Petersburg this Fall – a Soho NYC inspired establishment specializing in hand rolls, poke, sushi, sake and more. The group actually owns two spots in the Fusion building – the entire Edge Eatery concept and the District Lounge, which are located right next door to each other. Though, the two offer totally different vibes. Both spaces beautifully fuse tradition with innovation and offer a selection of expertly crafted eats. To complement the culinary journey, they also serve inventive and thoughtful cocktails, sake, house wine and imported and domestic beers.
The two concepts are titled Nomi Nori and Nomi Nori at the District Lounge. The spot in the eatery is more casual and while it does offer a walk-up counter, they are a full-service space. Hand rolls take center stage here and artistry and flavors are encapsulated in these crafted delights. Nomi Nori is actually St. Pete’s first dining establishment to specialize in hand rolls. You may be wondering what a hand roll is and the TLDR version of the coming description is simply that they’re another form of sushi. Traditionally, hand rolls are comprised of rice, raw fish, veggies and some times other ingredients which are all snuggly arranged in nori that is formed into a cone-like shape.
At Nomi Nori though, they form their hand rolls into a shape that resembles a taco. Originating in Japan, the hand roll, known as temaki, emerged as a convenient way to enjoy sushi on the go. This portable delight gained popularity for both its simplicity and the ability to showcase the vibrant flavors of each ingredient in every bite. Hand rolls have evolved and become more diversified over the years. Today, they’re enjoyed by sushi enthusiasts around the world.
Note from Lori and Kevin: The hand rolls were extremely difficult to eat in this fashion. The nori does not tear easily so the ingredients just end up falling out all over the place. While the fish and ingredients themselves were delicious, we did not find the experience of trying to eat them enjoyable.
The more high-end and refined space lives in the District Lounge directly next door. The District Lounge restaurant is idyllic for a more formal and intimate dinner date. The space exudes warmth and charm – it is bathed in soft and ambient light that dances atop the tables. The dimly lit haven, where good vibes are always on the menu, creates a perfect environment for savoring exquisite flavors and lingering conversations. Tables and bar seating inside are limited, which gives the experience an exclusive feel. However, they do have a cozy area outside where you can indulge in the charming patio and unwind with a delightful meal while overlooking the bustling energy of Central Avenue. Because there are a very limited number of tabletops, reservations are highly suggested.
It’s important to note that the District Lounge experience is for dinner only Wednesday – Saturday starting at 4:00PM and on Sunday they’re open from 11:30PM – 8:00PM. The other concept is open for lunch and dinner every day except Monday.
We recently had the pleasure of savoring a delectable dinner experience at the Nomi Nori District Lounge. Upon arrival, and even before walking in the front door, we knew we were in for a meal where excellence would meet sophistication. The excitement grew the closer we got to the entrance. We first noted the cozy patio and then glimpses of the interior came into our line of sight. The interior atmosphere is quite captivating and extremely well put together – interesting, yet simple, and not very large.
We were greeted immediately by Moses, the GM, who was incredibly pleasant and welcoming. Shortly there after, we were introduced to Steve, the GM, and Evan, the remarkable bartender. All three of these gentleman were exceedingly accommodating during our two hours spent there – it enhanced our experience and made everything that much better. They went well above and beyond with the food, drinks and service and that is something that deserves to be celebrated.
To start our journey through Nomi Nori, we headed to the cocktail section of the menu. Evan studied mixology in school and is currently in the running to be featured on the cover of Bartender Magazine, so we knew we were in for a treat. First to land was the Espresso Martini, which Steve said is his claim to fame. He stated that whenever he enters it into a contest, it places amongst the top drinks. It’s made with Reyka vodka, Flor de Caña Spresso liqueur, Giffard Vanille de Madagascar and espresso and beautifully garnished. The result is a lovely harmony of well-balanced flavors. Every sip was utterly delicious.
Next to arrive was the Smoke and Honey which combines Agave de Cortés mezcal, Choya Yuzi liqueur, burnt honey infused with rosemary-thyme, lemon and ginger. It’s presented table-side in a cocktail smoking box. The drink was subtly sweet with a touch of smoke that added a nuanced depth to the flavor profile.
Lastly, the Maverick cocktail was delivered, which was perhaps the most booze-forward. In it is a myriad of ingredients: Flor de Caña 18 year rum, Worthy Park dark 109 rum, RumBar white overproof, Giffard pamplemousse, spiced hibiscus, a touch of lemon and Kūbler absinthe. We love a spirit-forward cocktail and if you do too, this is your drink. The presentation here was also fun and included an element of fire and smoke.
Foodwise, we began with Marisol’s Ceviche, which is made with shrimp and scallops. In fact, Moses informed us that it is named after one of the Nomi Nori chefs, Marisol. The presentation was very attractive and the taste was even better. It was everything that you want from a ceviche – fresh, tangy and citrusy. This was a fantastic way to begin our meal.
The food focus at District Lounge is on the sushi, nigiri and sashimi. The brilliance of their small but carefully curated menu lies in the Chef’s Choice Sets section. Here, they showcase three different levels of thoughtfully selected combinations of hand rolls and nigiri. Quantities are the main difference. Three of us were in our party and for that, Moses suggested the largest set, which was the Nomi Nori Encore. This experience includes side salad and miso soup, blue crab hand roll, bluefin tuna poke hand roll, bluefin tuna nigiri, hamachi nigiri, escolar nigiri, salmon nigiri, golden bluefin tuna, uni & caviar nigiri and scallop with soy butter and caviar nigiri.
It was a beautiful way to taste our way through some of their menu highlights. Each piece of fish was transformed into a curated masterpiece that showcased both the fish and the artistry of the chefs and the establishment. The nigiri arrived first in a gorgeous display. In all honestly, we loved every single one, but the scallop and the hamachi were probably our favorites if we had to choose.
While we did thoroughly enjoy the flavors of the hand rolls, it’s worth noting that they did tend to slightly fall apart after taking a bite. This is a minor detail for an otherwise delectable offering. The bluefin tuna poke hand roll was our favorite. The flavors were pronounced and vibrant and the overall plating was visually appealing.
Moses informed us that the District Roll has been one of the most popular of the sushi rolls, so of course we followed his lead and ordered that. As far as sushi rolls are concerned, it is on the lighter side as there is no rice – it’s rolled in rice paper. In the midst of the rice paper, you’ll find salmon, ahi tuna, yellowtail, avocado, cucumber and asparagus. It was a burst of vibrancy that left us all humming.
A surprise from Steve, Moses, Evan & team arrived last (so we thought) in the form of dessert. Placed in front of us was a sensational little number called Nomi’s Passion. It is made up of a Belgian chocolate dome, mango-passion fruit mousse and brulee creme. The plating was visually arresting, drawing immediate attention with its arrangement. We are not dessert people, but this treat hit all of the right notes. It was just the right amount of sweet without being too much, and the mango-passion mousse was the crowd-favorite.
Remember the “so we thought” comment above? Well, it wasn’t long after the dessert that Evan arrived with a tray of their flaming mojito shots…and wow, were they worth it. The presentation alone was enough to satisfy me. This was a gift from the Nomi Nori team and it made our night even more memorable than it already was. These folks have hospitality nailed down to a science.
It goes without saying that we will 100% be back to Nomi Nori in the near future. As soon as we left, we talked about how we couldn’t wait to bring our out of town guests to the restaurant when they’re here next month. When we do, we will be sure to do so on a Thursday night, because this is when they have live entertainment in the form of a burlesque show featuring fire. Who doesn’t love dinner and a show?
The entire experience, from start to finish, left a lasting impression on both our palates and our senses. Truly, I cannot recommend Nomi Nori enough. It’s perfect for special occasions and a weeknight treat yourself type of meal. Make your reservation sooner rather than later and see for yourself what the hype is all about.
Soho NYC inspired handroll, sushi, sake and craft cocktail lounge.
PLEASE NOTE: Reviews reflect a certain moment in time. Some restaurants stay extremely consistent over many years, and some change for the better or worse. Some things that may change are: chefs, recipes, food suppliers, ingredients, philosophies, ownership, etc. We always hope that you have the same good, or great experience we had.