This week's Q+A features the innovative team behind Nichiyobi at Bambu in Ormond Beach, Florida, Executive Chef Ryan Truong and Manager/Mixologist Brandon Sheppard. Nichiyobi at Bambu is a pop-up style dining event held at Bamboo Garden on the first and third Sunday of the month. For a modest $45 a person, the experience includes a five course omakase style tasting menu that changes monthly. Each menu features unique dishes that combine modern culinary techniques with seasonal and often locally sourced ingredients. A recent menu showcased house cured and smoked Salmon and locally caught Cobia (white fish) prepared several ways and paired with inspired garnishes and accompaniments that drew on a variety of Asian influences. Guests had the opportunity to build their own mix and match hand rolls and enjoy Ryan and Brandon's non-traditional, but certainly delicious, take on fish and chips.
The dining experience is elevated by Brandon's carefully prepared cocktails that incorporate fresh muddled fruits, herbs, and on a recent visit, house candied ginger. The experience concludes with a dessert collaboration featuring another local business, typifying the sense of community Ryan and Brandon desire to cultivate with their vision for Nichiyobi. From the personalized name cards at your table and the warm, engaging staff to the meticulous thought put into each dish, Ryan and Brandon's attention to detail is what makes Nichiyobi such a unique and memorable experience here in Ormond Beach.
Q: Ok, we're going to start with an easy one, what is your favorite cuisine? Ryan: Definitely, Vietnamese. Brandon: Italian, Ryan’s biased.
Q: What was your inspiration for starting your Omakase style dinners? R+B: The inspiration came from the realization that the Ormond Beach area is not very diverse in Asian cuisines like sushi or other integrated Asian flavors. Our hope is to expand people’s palate in our community by introducing these types of food.
Q: I feel like this says a lot about a person...if you guys had to eat fast food what's your go-to? R: Five Guys B: Jersey Mikes
Q: What is your guys' background that got you into this industry? R: Growing up in the restaurant industry, I started working for my parents as a dishwasher, then a host, deep fryer, and eventually learned how to make sushi from my mom. Finally realizing I had a passion for food, I explored all sorts of styles, flavors, techniques, and all that is food related. B: I started as a bus boy and worked my way up to server, bartender, and then as a manager. Working from small mom and pops shops to corporate restaurants, I saw the niche aspect of creating something more than just a restaurant but an experience for the diner.
Q: Ok another hard one, favorite burger toppings? R: Bacon, assorted cheese, and caramelized onions. B: Fried egg, tomato, and cheese!
Q: What are you goals for your pop-up restaurant concept? R+B: Our goal is to turn Nichiyobi at Bambu into a full-scale sushi and Asian gastropub, with an exceptional bar and cocktail program. Exposing the taste buds of the community to what the world has to offer, while establishing personal relationships with each individual customer. We want everyone who walks into that door to feel at home and part of our family, not just another customer at any other restaurant.
Q: If you could have one person in the world dine at your restaurant, who would it be? R: Masaharu Morimoto – the vision of his food is classic, but at the same time futuristic and playful like our dishes. B: Frank Lloyd Wright – His vision for natural light and flow of a space has a huge influence in design. I would love to see what he could do to help create a better experience and intimate setting for our restaurant.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration from for your cocktails and tasting menus? R+B: We always start with what we enjoy eating and drinking the most, then from there we try to add our own personal touch or tweaks to enhance the flavors or some how make it more unique than any other restaurant.
Q: Bucket list travel destination? R: Japan, Thailand, Korea – Because there is so much flavor in all their dishes. B: Japan and Venice, Italy – I feel like the culture is something I could get lost in, simplicity. Just permanent vacation mode, eat, drink, and be happy.
Q: What is one thing you want people to know about Nichiyobi at Bambu? R+B: We believe in building a community driven business. We were born and raised here, and believe in giving back to the community through our personal experience and concept of Asian inspired food. At Nichiyobi we try to locally source our meats, fish, fruits, or produce from local farms in the area to help invest in the community of tomorrow.
That's a wrap for this Q+A. Don't miss out on your chance to experience Ryan and Brandon's omakase style dinners on the first and third Sunday of each month and comment below to let me know what you thought!
(386) 299-2960 | 749 S. Nova Road