Dining with Natalie: Nabi Café

As a native of culinary melting pot Malaysia and the daughter of a restaurateur, UG student Natalie Voo knows her food. Every other week, she reviews Groningen’s student-friendly dining scene. This time: Nabi Café.

Groningen always seems to be fashionably late to the food trend party, which is ironic given it’s a lively, youthful city brimming with students. So when Nabi Café opened, I thought, finally! Meanwhile, Chun Café in Amsterdam has been rocking the Korean sandwich scene for two years now, with hour-long lines daily to prove it. And since its opening, multiple cafes with a similar concept have popped up all over the country. Now, comparing Nabi Café to Chun would be like comparing apples to kimchi, but I walked in with an open mind and an empty stomach.

Bread and pancakes

We ordered the rib eye and BBQ chicken toasts. The bread was a delightful mix of soft and crispy, though a tad more toasting wouldn’t have hurt. The seasonings on the meats were surprisingly sweet. The rib eye threw me for a loop; I expected a steak, not tiny shreds of beef. Still, I preferred the rib eye over the chicken, thanks to the kimchi’s nice acidity cutting through the sweetness. Overall, the sandos were decent, but with Mr. Dam right across the street, I’d say save your euros if you’re on a budget or in need of a quick bite.

Souffle pancakes are what I call social media bait—pretty, often underwhelming, and guaranteed to rack up those likes. We went for the mango version since the matcha was sold out. The pancake itself was light and tasty, but the mango compote? Meh. Not surprising, given the subpar quality of mangoes in the Netherlands (ask anyone who’s had mangoes in Southeast Asia). If I were running Nabi, I’d swap in some local fruits like Meinardi strawberries instead.


The real showstopper for me was their strawberry foam matcha latte. The fruity sweetness of the strawberry paired with the earthy umami of the matcha? Pure magic. I’d come back just for that! Hands down, Groningen’s finest matcha.

It was self-service, and honestly, it felt like a bit of a chaotic free-for-all. I stood at the counter for ages before anyone took my order. Granted, we visited during their first week, so I’m cutting them some slack and hoping they find their rhythm soon. The employees were also really sweet and apologetic. The interior is simple—borderline cost-cutting—with its unfinished look and plastic plates.

Still, I’d say Nabi Café is worth a visit. The drinks are top-notch and those with a sweet tooth will appreciate their souffle pancakes. Who knows, supporting Nabi might just spark a wave of new Asian-style cafes in town!

Nabi Café, Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 25

A recently opened Asian cafe that serves sandos, Japanese souffle pancakes and matcha. For two people we spent €47.


Food: 7/10
Presentation: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Ambience: 7/10


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