“Nanam is a place where we combine Filipino inspired cuisine with New Zealand’s good food philosophy,” says owner and chef Jessabel Granada.
Jess and her partner and co-owner Andrew Soriano began introducing Aucklanders to Filipino food at the Auckland night markets selling taco pao, a steamed bun folded like a taco filled with pulled pork cooked in humba sauce.
They opened their first Nanam Eatery in a “hole in the wall” restaurant in Royal Oak. “Our previous location was just a quarter of the size of our current space,” says Jess. “The decor was simple yet unique, made by us, and with the food being Filipino (unique in its own way) people from all over Auckland filled up our space all the time and we sometimes had to turn some away. When we saw the location in Takapuna we decided to move and expand so we can accommodate anyone who wishes to visit us and host big parties.”
With Andrew’s brother Ryan Soriano and Jess’s sister Jhane Granada joining them, Nanam Eatery opened in Hurstmere Road in November, again with the interior fitout and menu designed by Andrew and Jess to pay tribute to the Philippines’ multicultural heritage and to maintain the authenticity they want to achieve, while also reflecting Takapuna’s contemporary style.
Andrew and Jess were born and raised in the Philippines. They both trained as chefs in top restuarants in the South Island and have been in the New Zealand hospitality industry for 10 years. They both believe that perfect harmony starts with good food, good staff and a home-style ambience that make people feel welcome.
“As we designed and redecorated the whole fit-out, we put a lot of thought into how can we make it a place not just to eat but to gather and share moments, with our own touch,” says Jess. “We made everything, from the aprons, curtains, walls and handicrafts. We look at Nanam as a fun dining place, not exactly a category anyone would have heard, but this makes our customers relaxed and the dining experience fun, engaging and interesting.”
“We never thought we would open up a Filipino inspired restaurant,” she adds, “because Filipino cuisine is so diverse in flavour yet unexplored that even for a Filipino chef it is a big task to present it at this level. But as destiny keeps pushing us this way, we have now fallen in love with the challenge of it.”
Since they opened in Takapuna, Andrew and Jess have found that North Shore locals are more than open to experimenting with Filipino cuisine, which Jess says has a strong Spanish influence.
“The flavours belong to Philippines history,” says Jess, “but the dishes also showcase a New Zealand influence, resulting in a simple, personalised and unique tasty menu. Our wine list is tailored to match our food by our good friend and big wine-lover, master sommelier Cameron Douglas.
Jess finds it hard to single out any dishes for patrons to try. “Items on the menu are all different and tasty in their own way but the most popular are our beetroot bao or ensalada eggplant for entrée, the main is the Hawkes Bay lamb Adobo and dessert is our banana parfait Turon.”
She also suggests that the tamarind roast chicken, grilled yellow fin tuna, or sizzling sisig octopus are “must-try” options. “Everyone raves about these dishes.”
Nanam’s menu is changed seasonally. Some of the vegetables are sourced in local community organic gardens, “so we get different varieties every season that makes it easy as a chef to ensure we have the quality we need”.
Jess says the hardest challenge in setting up their own restaurant was how to be unique and how to express their authentic identity. “As the world of food is full of cookbooks, cooking shows and trends, and sometimes food is considered as an art, it is hard to determine who you are as an artist. We are glad to discover who we are and find that balance from our food history combined with the experiences that inspired us as chefs. This truly shows as our strength in everything we do.”
178 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna 09 488 9976 email@example.com
Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-2:30pm and 5-10pm
Bookings online: www.nanamrepublic.co.nz