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Mexico City

WAN WAN

BEST NEW BISTRO

WAN WAN

SHORTLISTED BY BISTRONAUT #9

WHO
Although new, this has become CDMX’s most authentic Japanese izakaya (pub-eatery). It’s casual enough to dig into ramen at the bar (no tables here). So discreet and low-key is this exciting new addition to the city’s ever-growing Japanese culinary scene that nobody could tell us who the owners or the chef are. We finally found a hint in Japanese on their Facebook page in the “about” section, but after Google translating it, this is what it said: “A popular bar in a U-shaped counter, motu simmered with sake and sake and Showa kayo. You can usually eat what you normally eat in Japan, here in Mexico.” I suppose that’s all we need to know.

FOOD
A truly vast menu with a variety of dumplings, nigiri, maki, fish donburi ($220), udon (from $85, then choose your toppings), Japanese curries (from $105), onigiri (from $40), and ramen, which is a specialty served in the narrow wing next door (pork-based Nagahama style, from $95). Seriously, it just goes on and on, even including various spaghettis with local fish sauces.
A mixed Nigiri Nami featuring tuna, salmon, mackerel, kanpachi, yellowtail, shrimp and octopus. Each piece was astonishingly fresh, distinct and full of flavor, passing the ultimate test of a nigiri: we could indeed have been right there in Japan – $292
Delicious, nicely browned beef gyoza – $75 for 5
Katsu don with crisp pork cutlets, fried egg, onions and rice, cooked in dashi with sake and sweet soy sauce – $165
For dessert, there’s macha ice cream ($40), nothing special, but desserts aren’t the point here, and we would have been wise to dive back into the menu for a taste of something else.

DRINKS
Again, the menu is vast, focused on Japanese and Mexican beers (Sapporo at $150), Japanese whiskeys (a Fujisan at $154), sake (the house Ozeki at $40 a glass, a jar (180cl) of smooth Suehiro at $192), and shochu (yes, rice-, wheat- and potato-based) from a Kuro Kirishima ($82) to a Hyaku ($1,000 – for 50ml!).

DECOR
Welcome to Japan. You could be in a traditional, narrow Ginza sushi bar, with the menu hung on the walls, chalked in Japanese onto slates, and endless bottles of sake lining the shelves. Neon signs and functional lighting. Perfection.

NOISE
Smoothly blended into the background. An eclectic rap soundtrack so cool it could have been composed by RZA. Song after song, Shazam was left speechless, until finally it redeemed itself by identifying I Still Love H.E.R. by the Teriyaki Boyz.

SEATING
Wooden stools around a narrow sushi bar. Nothing exceptional, although one nice touch is the unobtrusive USB charging stations at each seat, which took us by surprise, considering the bar looks as if it hasn’t changed in decades (that’s a compliment – don’t change).

VIBE
A young, bohemian, multicolored crowd speaking perfect Spanish who are obviously serious about Japanese food. Interesting hair and mustaches, books by French philosophers in translation held open in one hand (I’m not kidding). The place also has a dedicated Japanese clientele.

RESTROOMS
Men’s and women’s. Clean.

SERVICE
Friendly and prompt. Elegant Mexican waiters in black vests and ties behind the bar.15% felt like too little.

WOULD RECOMMEND
This may be our new favorite sushi bar in the western hemisphere, and the menu may require a lifetime of dedication. We’ll be back again, again and again.

WHO
Although new, this has become CDMX’s most authentic Japanese izakaya (pub-eatery). It’s casual enough to dig into ramen at the bar (no tables here). So discreet and low-key is this exciting new addition to the city’s ever-growing Japanese culinary scene that nobody could tell us who the owners or the chef are. We finally found a hint in Japanese on their Facebook page in the “about” section, but after Google translating it, this is what it said: “A popular bar in a U-shaped counter, motu simmered with sake and sake and Showa kayo. You can usually eat what you normally eat in Japan, here in Mexico.” I suppose that’s all we need to know.

FOOD
A truly vast menu with a variety of dumplings, nigiri, maki, fish donburi ($220), udon (from $85, then choose your toppings), Japanese curries (from $105), onigiri (from $40), and ramen, which is a specialty served in the narrow wing next door (pork-based Nagahama style, from $95). Seriously, it just goes on and on, even including various spaghettis with local fish sauces.
A mixed Nigiri Nami featuring tuna, salmon, mackerel, kanpachi, yellowtail, shrimp and octopus. Each piece was astonishingly fresh, distinct and full of flavor, passing the ultimate test of a nigiri: we could indeed have been right there in Japan – $292
Delicious, nicely browned beef gyoza – $75 for 5
Katsu don with crisp pork cutlets, fried egg, onions and rice, cooked in dashi with sake and sweet soy sauce – $165
For dessert, there’s macha ice cream ($40), nothing special, but desserts aren’t the point here, and we would have been wise to dive back into the menu for a taste of something else.

DRINKS
Again, the menu is vast, focused on Japanese and Mexican beers (Sapporo at $150), Japanese whiskeys (a Fujisan at $154), sake (the house Ozeki at $40 a glass, a jar (180cl) of smooth Suehiro at $192), and shochu (yes, rice-, wheat- and potato-based) from a Kuro Kirishima ($82) to a Hyaku ($1,000 – for 50ml!).

DECOR
Welcome to Japan. You could be in a traditional, narrow Ginza sushi bar, with the menu hung on the walls, chalked in Japanese onto slates, and endless bottles of sake lining the shelves. Neon signs and functional lighting. Perfection.

NOISE
Smoothly blended into the background. An eclectic rap soundtrack so cool it could have been composed by RZA. Song after song, Shazam was left speechless, until finally it redeemed itself by identifying I Still Love H.E.R. by the Teriyaki Boyz.

SEATING
Wooden stools around a narrow sushi bar. Nothing exceptional, although one nice touch is the unobtrusive USB charging stations at each seat, which took us by surprise, considering the bar looks as if it hasn’t changed in decades (that’s a compliment – don’t change).

VIBE
A young, bohemian, multicolored crowd speaking perfect Spanish who are obviously serious about Japanese food. Interesting hair and mustaches, books by French philosophers in translation held open in one hand (I’m not kidding). The place also has a dedicated Japanese clientele.

RESTROOMS
Men’s and women’s. Clean.

SERVICE
Friendly and prompt. Elegant Mexican waiters in black vests and ties behind the bar.15% felt like too little.

WOULD RECOMMEND
This may be our new favorite sushi bar in the western hemisphere, and the menu may require a lifetime of dedication. We’ll be back again, again and again.

OPENING HOURS

Monday to Saturday: 1:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Closed Sunday.

RESERVATION

No reservation. You may have to wait a bit during the lunch hour rush, but for dinner you’ll likely be led to a seat at the bar immediately.

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