Nippon Tei, Ramen Tei • Japanese, Ramen, Seafood, Sushi
Ann Bognar opened Nippon Tei in 2001, and this shopping-plaza storefront between Des Peres and Ballwin has been a St. Louis jewel ever since. Bognar herself moves between Nippon Tei’s kitchen and dining room, overseeing the restaurant’s elegantly efficient operation, including the menu her son and executive chef, Nick Bognar, reimagined a few years back. Nigiri sushi is this menu’s heart, ordered by the piece — or, better still, as the omakase selection of the day’s five best pieces. For $28 on my visit, it yielded bites of perfect momentary pleasure: snow-white flounder with a tiny but staggering chile charge; sweet Hokkaido scallop with a pop of lychee; benitoro (seared salmon belly) as luxurious as an exquisitely marbled rib-eye. Pair this with a smartly constructed roll (the Tiger Cry, with yellowtail and spicy crab), light, sweet tempura prawns or the wagyu burger steam bun, which evokes both bao and a late-night slider. In April, the Bognars announced Nippon Tei would relocate this fall to the Hill and become a new sushi concept called Sado.
📍 Where 14025 Manchester Road, Ballwin • More info 636-386-8999; nippon.teistl.com • Hours Dinner Wednesday-Sunday (closed Monday-Tuesday) • Pricing $$-$$$