Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Nobu - Dubai

Nobu Nobu Nobu.  After hearing about Nobu for years, I finally went to Nobu in Dubai.  I wanted to get the deluxe omakase because I doubted I would be back anytime soon.  The waiter, however, talked me out of Omakase Deluxe for Omakase (regular), reasoning that if this was my first Nobu experience the regular Omakase meal would provide a great overview of the restaurant.  I'm never opposed to saving a few dollars, and I appreciate waiters that do not recommend the most expensive thing on a menu, so I went with it.  I was a little disappointed in the end, but more to come...
Take a gander at that giant lobster!
I always feel like I'm in a pretentious place when I have to pay for still water.  Nobu was no exception - they brought me out Fiji - at least it's a personal favorite.  Water is water, after all, but Acqua Panna and Fiji are the two best bottled waters out there.  I digress.

First course. Yellowtail, salsa, cucumber, fried seaweed. The fried seaweed looked cool and tasted good.  Very tasty bites, but a bit unremarkable. Fresh, clean, but I will forget about that dish. (Being a little behind on blog posts, I can tell you I did actually forget about this dish... even if it does look like art.)
Second course. Salmon roll, salad roll, ginger roll, and miso dressing. Note the lack of rice in the salmon roll.  I love riceless sushi - like this, or wrapped with cucumber.  I'm a sucker for it.  The Miso "dressing" was light and sweet and delicious. Then Anchovies were a burst of flavor and nice texture contrast (see them fused together - they were like a cracker). The micro greens were flavorful, and the salmon roll was delicate and delicious too. (I did remember this dish, and I can still taste that pickled veg in my mouth today.)
Third course. Wood roasted oven Sole with Jalepeno sauce. Perfect crispy skin on the sole. Yum.  The sauce was good, light and fulfilling (though it didn't have much zip), and the flecks of flower on the top were a nice touch. It was the best Sole I've eaten, but not the best rendition of dishes of this type.
Fourth course. Alaskan black cod, with miso marinade. This is a Nobu house specialty. The sweet miso sauce very similar to the sauce on the second plate. This dish was very good, but I've had better marinated black cod cheeks at Maneki, a 100 year old Japanese restaurant in Seattle.  Maybe I am being a bit picky, but I was expecting real magic.  (It does look good, huh?)
Fifth course. Sizzling Beef Teppanyaki (on a personal stone plate) with mixed mushrooms. I was told this would be a Wagyu course on the Deluxe Omakase. I wish I'd ordered that now. The ju was so delicious that I could have poured it on a bowl of rice and eaten it like a porridge. A super rich, heart attack portage. Mmmm.  This was the first truly remarkable dish of the evening, and it would have been all the more spectacular with Wagyu. A word to the wise, order one shade under what you want, the beef continues to cook on the plate and Middle Easterners always overcook their meats. I ordered mine rare, and it ended up being a perfect mid-rare.
Sixth course. Sushi and miso. To say this was an incredibly sparing portion may do injustice to other sparing portions out there. Spicy tuna, salmon, seabass, and sweet shrimp were served. The Rice was perfectly cooked - not a trivial accomplishment. The spicy tuna, a scallion, Jalapeno, tuna roll was a tasty riff on the classic, but needed more spice for me. The miso soup had a hidden surprise, two pieces of clam at the bottom. While that was nice, this was by no means the best miso soup I've ever eaten. Again, nice, but not memorable. (Again, I'd literally forgotten about it.)

Seventh course.  "Pre-dessert" Tiramisu mochi. Shockingly delicious (since I don't generally like tiramisu and hate the flavor of coffee).  It was much more subtle than I expected with almost fruity notes. The consistency was not the best, but the ratio of mochi to ice cream was on the mark.
Eighth course. The finale was a warm chocolate souffle, a la a molten chocolate cake. The sorbet, a banana one, WAS one of the best I'd had and the dessert was a very successful end to the meal.  A real high note.  

Overall.  The wait staff was attentive and excellent.  Without a doubt they raised the quality of my experience.  Watching on during the preparation of dozens of sushi pieces and rolls was great fun while I sat at the sushi bar.  The ingredients looked fresh and of excellent quality, but the portions were stingy, small, and the price tag was high. I'd recommend the restaurant for impressing someone, like a prospective client, or for a trendy, modern Japanese atmosphere and special occasion. You can get numerous hard-to-find (in Dubai) luxurious ingredients like Otoro, Wagyu, etc.  This said, if you are not willing to shell out the money for specialty Japanese fare (and by specialty, I mean said hard to find items), you should probably go to somewhere more reasonably priced.

Nobu - Dubai
Atlantis (Hotel)
The Palm (Jumeirah)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
4 of 5 (only 3 in its class - aka fine dining or fancy Japanese)

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