The extra-large maneki-neko in the window of Nanit is an auspicious sign. The garish red window stickers with instructions on how to wield chopsticks successfully could go either way. Ironic in nature being the one I would prefer. Inside, I am met by two Spanish waitresses both wearing glasses, one with half of her long hair shaved off.
It’s a dinky, dark shop brought to life by a large mural of chinese men consumed by hilarity, seemingly inspired by Yue Minjun and the rest of the walls given over to tinted mirrors. It’s when I am handed the menu that I know I am in for a treat. There is no thick tome, with reams of laminated paper championing sweet and sour chicken. Instead, it looks like a scrapbook, with pictures of the dishes pasted in and the names of the dishes hand written in gold marker pen. I am charmed instantly and hopefully I can keep my head on straight and still give an unbiased review.
The dumplings are freshly made, usually in the window by the chef’s mother. I have 5 large ones in my Wonton soup (€4.85). On two separate occasions, I order the home-made tofu. It comes in a thick molasses coloured sauce studded with slivers of pork belly and comas of shrimp (€7.95). Parts of it, knock my breath away without being noticeably spicy. Delicious. I order a small bowl of rice on the side (€1.95) to better set off the salt and the heat. There are steamed buns (€3.75). Chinese cabbage dressed in sesame oil (€3.75). All delicious and tasting like something that has been homemade. Best enjoyed with their Jasmine tea (€3.00).
Now. Nanit is not as dirt cheap as the decor would imply. In fact, considering the portions are on the small side and the presentation is unremarkable it nudges into the pricey. Eating alone for lunch, I have spent €16.75 and €20.40 because I wanted a starter and a bowl of rice. However I consider it’s worth it, for some Chinese home cooking in Barcelona and next time I am taking along friends so we can order even more from this charming spot. (Barcelona readers, if you know and love some other Chinese spots – please let me know!)
See this and find more addresses on my Foodie in Barcelona Map
Carrer de Balmes, 79