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Nobu


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If you are a novice, omakase is really the best way to go. You will get a good cross section of what Nobu's cuisine is all about, including some very interesting dishes you you might not otherwise have picked from the menu.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

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If you are a novice, omakase is really the best way to go.  You will get a good cross section of what Nobu's cuisine is all about, including some very interesting dishes you you might not otherwise have picked from the menu.

I absolutely second that. Nobu has good sushi, but also has amazing cooked dishes -- stuff you won't find anywhere else. The omakase (chef's choice/tasting menu) will likely include at least one or two sushi courses. I had the omakase about 2 years ago, and while the memories are tainted by sake (I wish I could give you more specific details), I believe it was 8 courses, 2 of which were sushi -- definitely a toro (fatty tuna), and I believe a saba (mackerel) or sawara (spanish mackerel). Regardless, the omakase should include most of what the chef considers excellent that day.

If you're a sushi novice, and your objective is grow your experience, I would recommend that you find a basic, but competent to excellent sushi restaurant to expand your repertoire. There's too much other good stuff going on at Nobu to focus on sushi alone -- put yourself in their hands.

--m.

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Here's my picks; often served as part of omakase. I usually often at least three of the following

Salmon kelp roll

Black cod in Miso sauce

Spaggetti squid (best calamari ever; called "spaggetti squid" because they passed it off as spaggetti to the picky child of a movie star))

Mixed seaweed salad (if you like seaweed).

I found that the really expensive ingredient things (king crab, lobster) are not usually the best.

You can ask for the ones of the above that appeal to you as part of omakase.

Other highly recommended dishes:

New style sashimi (can be done with different fish, go with whatever the chef recommends)

Halibut cheeks

beachfan

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Also recommended dishes:

Rock shrimp tempura in a creamy sauce

Sashimi in citrus sauce with jalapenos

The menu lists several dishes such as Beef/Chicken/Salmon Teriyaki - avoid these like the plague. They're not awful, but definitely not anywhere close to the standards of some of the other dishes mentioned in the thread.

"Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets; all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in."

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  • 1 month later...

Since this was once a thread about Nobu, I thought I'd drop some thoughts about my first visit right about here.

Bustling, busy, attractively but plainly decorated - I was expecting something more fancy, I suppose - delightful service right down to prompt wine pouring (essential, that). As first timers on a special occasion, we compromised between omakase and the Nobu classics simply by ordering an omakase dinner and requesting that the black cod be one of the courses.

A lot of food. My Beloved was able to fine tune her order by requesting nothing spicy. I think all the wasabi, therefore, went into my first dish - tartare of belly tuna. Looked innocent, all pink and smooth, with a little caviar on top, but the silkiness was followed up by a sinus-clearing blast of fresh wasabi and chopped onion. Explosive palate cleanser.

Since I don't take notes at the table, I can only point to highlights. A perfect raw scallop. A sashimi salad served with a rich, almost glutinous, brown dressing, so good it almost made me cry. The black cod, marinated in miso, with a wedge of seared foie gras on top lived up to its reputation - intensely sweet without being cloying. We had been drinking champagne, but paired the cod with a Riesling, which turned out to be one of the best food/wine combinations I've enjoyed in a while.

Loved the sizzling beef dish (I thought it was Wagyu, but I may be wrong - the tenderness and delicious fat suggested as much).

The Bento box with chocolate souffle cake and green tea ice cream was one dessert. There was also some business with bananas and birthday candles, which modesty restrains me from describing. A most memorable evening. :smile::smile::smile:

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I ate at Nobu about a month ago for the 4th time. We were all disappointed. We had the least expensive omakase menu (3 people). I'd had the omakase before, at varying levels, and had always been blown away. My previous visit was at least a year ago, so I don't think that redundancy was the problem. We had too little variety (several sashimi dishes) and no real "wow" dishes. Everything was good, there was nothing wrong with anything specific, but in general it was just "OK" and didn't live up to previous experiences. I wondered if Nobu was going downhill or if it was just an off night. Plus, we didn't see any celebrities (previous visits have included great sightings, especially UMA THURMAN).

Has anyone been disappointed by Nobu recently?

Rory Bernstein Kerber

www.RoryKerber.com

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I have never been dissapointed by Nobu. Maybe since you have experienced Nobu at higher omakase price levels, the level of expectation did not match what you receievd for the lower end level. Coincidentally, I also got the same price omakase at Nobu Next Door about a month ago, and was thoroughly happy with the selection.

Edited by Superflytritone (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Dinner tonight at Nobu, with four other e-gulleteers. (I'll let them make their own impressions.)

I did not take notes, but here are my impressions:

1. The room is dimly lit, perhaps poorly lit. We had to ask for candles to brighten the table environment, and even then, that was barely insufficient. Also, the acoustics are poor, because even though the space is large, we had to, at one point, literally shout across our table in order to be heard.

2. The food is superb and stunning across the board, except that the sushi course seems almost like an afterthought, as if to say that that is not the focus at the restaurant, but here it is because this is a Japanese restaurant and you're expecting it anyway. At least that's the impression I received. I also felt that the pieces of unagi were too large, but that's just me.

Dishes according to my recollection:

A. Starter amuse of one single sweet shrimp, with garlic and herbs, atop shitaake mushrooms in a single radicchio leaf.

B. Tuna (o-toro?), topped with spring onions and osetra caviar, surrounded by a sweet miso sauce. I felt there was too much of the miso, even though it seemed to have been plated more for a visual effect.

C. Salad with a jalapeno dressing. There was a sashimi component, but as it was TOO LOUD :angry: for me to hear the waiter's description, I can't give an accurate recollection of the dish.

D. Seared yellowtail sashimi with a black pepper crust, in a jalapeno/chili sauce. Again, the problem with too much saucing threatened to overwhelm the delicate balance of flavors present in the dish. That said, the yellowtail was about as decadent, if not more so, than a nicely seared slice of foie gras...it was THAT good.

E. Pan-seared Chilean sea bass, white asparagus, baby radishes, chervil, white miso broth. Delicate flavors, clean crisp vegetables, nice piece of fish.

F. The much afore-mentioned black cod with miso, served with a couple of pickled onions in what seemed like an anise or five-spice powder flavor coating. SHEER HEAVEN! God, I think if I could have that for dinner, for the rest of my life, I'd be in foodie heaven. Rich, luscious, like eating braised pork belly but not as heavy, great mouth feel. WOW WOW WOW.

G. Sushi -- average assortment, served with miso soup and baby clams. See above for commentary.

H. Sort of like an ice cream/kulfi with a circle of phyllo on top, sesame seed sprinkles, grape coulis. Was all right, nothing special -- but in their defense, I scarfed it down. Guess I must be a tourist, eh? :blink: You be the judge.

Nobu has a BYO policy with a $20 corkage fee, which was not applied to us -- one of our tablemates had brought two sakes.

All in all, a great evening and great company. I'd go back again to sample the higher end of the menu, my quibbles with the lighting, the acoustics and the sushi notwithstanding. Better notes next time, too.

Cheers,

Soba

PS. I know I'm missing something, but can't remember what. I'm sure it'll get sorted out eventually. If anyone is curious, we had the $80 omakase. There are three other levels of omakase --$100, and $120 and $120+ being the other tiers.

Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)
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I am salivating remembering that black miso... its one of those culinary meal memories that tend to linger with us...

omakase is definitely the way to go... my only distraction in my last meal there was uma and ethan at the next table pigging out - they sure packed it in. I love there tiradito.. wonder if it is still on the menu

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Nice job, Soba. Better memory than mine.

I really enjoyed the meal too. I loved the black cod with the unusually spiced pickled onions. We asked for a Riesling (based on Wilfrid’s earlier recommendation) to accompany this and instead the waiter brought a Grüner Veltliner, Hirsci (2000) which was delightful, though not chilled enough (same could be said for the bottle of Sancerre).

I especially liked B, C (I think this was described as Japanese Red Snapper) and D in Soba’s post. I loved the combinations, sometimes spicy sometimes sweet. The fish was first rate, except for the tuna in B which I found a little sinewy. I agree with Soba that the sushi coming after the hot courses towards the end of the meal did feel a little out of place.

We were at the back of the restaurant in what felt a separate room. Good in the sense that it may’ve been quieter than the front, but the color scheme was brown-dull, and as Soba mentioned depressingly dim. When asked if the lights could be turned up a tad the waiter said he’d ask a manager, and when nothing happened we requested candles and were given one. Acoustics abysmal. The restaurant could do with some sprucing up. A bit worn around the edges. Little things too: The menus were grubby and the paper turned up at the corners (terrible offence :blink: ). Service was friendly and very good on the whole, though the first few courses felt a bit rushed and on one occasion plates were cleared and another course put down before one of us had finished the previous course. Apology was given.

But the food was so good and the company so much fun (and wow, the lovely sake in its lovely turquiose bottle, and very nice of the restaurant not to charge us corkage), the above didn’t end up negatively affecting my enjoyment.

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I too, enjoyed the meal very much. I have nothing further to add regarding the decor and the piss-poor acoustics (I had to shout at the people sitting next to me, urgh).

Regarding B, I don't think we were necessarily meant to consume all the sauce. Since it was not covering the tuna, some could have been left to the side. But, it did complement the tuna well in small doses, I thought. The pan-seared sea bass had an interesting smoky aftertaste, as if it had been grilled rather than seared. The black cod with miso was absolutely heavenly. I know that many other restaurants have this dish on their menus now, but I can't see how any of them would surpass Nobu's version. There was an exact balance of sweet and salty, of fat and flesh.

As for the sushi, I have had better elsewhere. And there was way too much wasabi on a couple of pieces. For the record, they gave us amberjack, tuna, king salmon, Japanese snapper, and an unagi roll. The addition of clams in the miso was unexpected, at least to me. Interestingly, they didn't provide spoons with the soup--the waiter said that in Japan people just pick up the bowl and slurp it, like tea.

But all in all, it was a lovely, relaxing evening with fun, lively company. Now I can say I've been to Nobu!

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Joy, I'm with you on the black cod. Don't like it either. I was at Next Door Nobu last friday, had the $100 omakase, and was not blown away. Yes, the ingredients were all very fresh, but the tiradito style dishes lack sophistication. While it the whole idea of a tiradito style dish is about bold flavors, there is a lack of contrast and balance. We had one cooked white fish that was just boring. Having said that, the crab was phenomenal, and the sushi was great even though I had better at Jewel Bako. Dessert was interesting and well done.

All in all, it was great but just not exceptional. (Okay, now I will be banned from that restaurant forever.)

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Bond Girl, thank god I really thought I was alone on this. People are fainting in ecstasy over the miso cod and I'm like "please pass the sake."

Oh and I don't want to sound like a total KillJoy, everything else I liked just fine. It was just the miso cod that stumped me.

Edited by Joy (log)
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  • 1 year later...

I've been invited to dinner at Nobu next week. I've never been, so obviously I'm looking forward to the experience. My host, who is not from New York, said that he called the restaurant, and they told him they don't take reservations for parties of less than six people, but at 6:30pm we "shouldn't have to wait too long."

This contradicts everything I've ever heard about getting into Nobu, and makes me wonder if perhaps he's confusing it with "Nobu, Next Door." Can this be true?

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Unless something has changed in the past few months, Nobu most definitely takes reservations and your friend just called the wrong restaurant. The number for Nobu is 212-219-0500. The number for Nobu Next Door, where it's first come first served, is 212-334-4445.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Admin: merging above.

A vendor invited me out to lunch at Nobu on Friday. That meant he was paying. We had no reservation, but we were waiting by the door when they opened at 11:45am, and we were seated immediately. My host had done this before, so apparently it's a dependable way to get into Nobu without a rez. We only had to promise that we'd vacate our table by 1:30pm. It was my first visit.

For lunch, Nobo offers a wide variety of sushi and sashimi plates, soups and side dishes, several sushi/sashimi assortments in the $23-$28 range, a prix fixe package at $20.04, and the chef's omakase at "$55 to $65 and up." There's also a two-column list running to a closely-spaced half-page, which the waiter called "Chef Nobu's signature dishes." The menu had another name for them, but the waiter's term sticks in my memory.

The waiter advised us to skip the sushi, and to order 4 or 5 of the signature dishes, which he told us are served "Tapas style." That means they come one at a time, to be shared by the table. We chose 5 of the signatures - basically the ones the waiter recommended - as well as the Spicy Seafood Soup, which my host had enjoyed on his previous visit. The waiter's descriptions went by at blazing speed, and frankly I wasn't entirely sure what we'd chosen. He told us about a few special dishes not on the menu, and we chose one of these, but I always wonder why a restaurant can't be bothered to put the daily specials on a piece of paper. I think Nobu could manage it. At any rate, it all sounded good.

The Spicy Seafood Soup came first, and it reminded me of that old commercial about the soup so chunky you want to eat it with a fork. There was just an amazing amount of seafood packed into the soup bowl. Then came yellowtail with cilantro and jalapeno peppers; I thought the last two ingredients slightly overwhelmed the first. It was the only dish about which I had even the slightest reservations. Our second signature dish was kobe beef, thinly sliced, and prepared with two kinds of spices. A tuna sashimi salad was sheer perfection, with several large slices of rare tuna. Then came squid pasta (hard to explain), and finally a black sea bass so rich and flavorful that I can still taste it. Sorry if the descriptions are a little vague. The more I try to write about food, the more respect I have for those who mange to do it so well.

I can see why the waiter steered us away from sushi. My host, who had ordered sushi the last time he visited, confirmed this. The so-called signature dishes are extraordinary and without parallel. The sushi, he said, is of course among the best that can be had, but doesn't stand out from what's available elsewhere quite so conspicuously.

With five dishes shared among two of us, plus soup, I left Nobu quite full, and yet sorry that the meal was over. Every dish was creative, full of flavor, perfectly seasoned, and prepared with an obvious attention to every detail. While enjoying our own meal, my host and I watched the parade of plates arriving at adjoining tables. No matter what you order, every dish entertains the eye as much as the taste buds. They are all works of sculpture - "Art in Food," as my host observed. He promised to invite me back again, this time for dinner, in a couple of months or so. I can hardly wait.

Edited by slkinsey (log)
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Many thanks for the report.

If you're really interested in getting to know Nobu better, the best strategy is to sit at the sushi bar, order omakase, and engage your sushi chef in a dialog about the food. The servers at Nobu tend to be unimpressive, but the sushi bar allows a convenient mechanism for cutting them out of the picture. And at the sushi bar, of course, you can watch much of your food -- as well as everybody else's food -- being assembled.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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At dinner, omakase is 80, 100, 120 and up.

Nobu was one of the first meals I had at a restaurant of any sort of acclaim. This was four years ago, when I was 18. I went again soon after and was disappointed, everything I'd eaten the first time was lackluster the second. I have since found many restaurants that suit my taste better than Nobu and was not interested in returning. It impresses me as a sort of factory, and I get annoyed when friends use it as the obligatory example of great Japanese food, as it doesn't serve the Japanese food I love the most. (I tried not to call it inauthentic because that implies that it aims to be authentic.) Yet someone gave me a gift certificate almost a year ago, and I put off using it. Just before it expired a few weeks ago, I made time to use it.

Like oakapple, I thought the yellowtail with jalapenos was overpowered by the overly acidic sauce and peppers. The ceviche was mediocre, with poor quality fish. The clams and other shellfish were tasteless and the white fish chewy and mealy.

I did, however, enjoy asparagus in egg sauce with salmon roe -- though I might not order the strange dish again. The cooked fish dishes I had were as good as I remember them being. The black cod with sweet miso and chilean sea bass with black bean sauce were both well executed with straightforward flavors.

I wouldn't go back if I was paying, but I've learned that if you order right it can be fun.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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