By Anni Caporuscio
In a little over two years, NOM Kaua‘i went from a dream to a food truck, and finally to a full-service restaurant. But the real winners here are the customers, who can now enjoy NOM’s deliciously creative menu in a hip and welcoming dining room.
Thomas and Alicia Fuquay recently moved their breakfast and burger red food wagon north of Old Kapa‘a Town to a little storefront in Kapa‘a’s Big Save shopping center. It’s sharp, bold and festive, very hip, and with a lot of heart. The attention to detail is evident from the hand-painted walls to the matching red accoutrements, the sassy menu titles and carefully curated sandwiches, the hashtags (#keepbrunchwierd) and the polite declination of substitutes.
NOM is the pleasing result of daydreams and a lifetime of cooking and serving great food. Thom, himself, is the winner of a Food Channel contest, “Cooks vs. Cons,” and also of the “Tasting Kaua‘i’s 2016 Coconut Cup” for his Shrimp and Grits.
I can respect a menu full of catchy sandwich names: The Fancy One (a burger with goat cheese, pork belly and tomato jam among other luxuries), The Hellfire (a burger with all the spicy things you can think of), The Woody (burger with cheddar and BBQ sauce), The Cheesy Pig (maple-braised pork and cheddar), The Spicy Chick (a spicy fried chicken sandwich), The Toasty Elvis (banana bread French toast and peanut butter) and more; I won’t give them all away.
The overall vision for NOM is to take Southern comfort food (they’re from Northern Florida) and use local Kaua‘i ingredients to make it. And they’ll twist it up and make comfort food Kaua‘i style, and Kaua‘i food comfort style. Alicia points out that so much of Kaua‘i local food is already comfort food, “comfort” as the descriptor for rich and satisfying down home cooking. Southern comfort food was born out of necessity; when it’s lean times and there’s not a lot of food, you stretch it out and do what you can. It evolves in to the dishes you remember your grandma for and you love every deep fried saucy bite.
They make almost every thing from scratch, including the biscuits for biscuits and gravy (get ‘em while you can), the zesty aiolis for fry dipping and sandwich dripping, the chips, the vinaigrettes, the compotes and jams. They’re also very happy to serve the wares from local producers like Kaua‘i Juice Co. (Kombucha on tap) beef from Medeiros Farm and beef cheeks from Makaweli Ranch, Passion Bakery, Hanalei Taro Co. (taro burger alternatives to beef) Kaua‘i Shrimp (for their new menu item, the Kaua‘i Roll), Imua Coffee Roasters (Vietnamese style coffee), and many more. Hit them up if you have a partnership idea.
Comfort food in general is making a comeback. Those of us who enjoy a good kale and quinoa bowl can also enjoy some buttermilk fried chicken. Have an açaí bowl one day, and chicken and waffles the next. It keeps us balanced and cultured, right? NOM does offer vegetarian options, such as a taro patty substitution on certain dishes, and they’ll hold the brioche for gluten-free eaters. But if you can, dig in and ask for an extra napkin.
Find Thom and Alicia, manager Michelle and the NOM Kaua‘i crew at 4-1101 Kuhio Hwy in Kapa‘a, from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. everyday except Tuesday. Visit www.nomkauai.com for more information and check them out at social media as well.
- Anni Caporuscio is a food lover and can be found daily at her Kapa‘a business, Small Town Coffee.