Two Fridays ago, on a cousins' night out, it was with some sense of anticipation that I finally found myself at Nobu - at one point the hottest dining destination in Dubai. (I say at one point only because it's not new and we all know how much Dubai loves its shiny new things.)
Nevertheless, with a name like Nobu, its really not surprising that the restaurant tucked away in the belly of Atlantis The Palm has managed to hold its own among a brood of younger, brighter entrants on Dubai's dining scene.
And while probably not the best place I've eaten at in Dubai - I won't mention where that is in this post, let's just say it's also a contemporary Japanese restaurant ;) - I will say the evening was memorable, and like all good restaurants, I'll let the food do the talking :)
(Besides, I didn't care too much for the decor. The woven rattan and abaca panels were more shack than chic and on the whole it was all a bit brighter than I imagined a place like Nobu should be. But that could just be me.)
Anyway... getting back to what really mattered - the food!
Dish 1: Hot miso chips with scallops
Probably my second favourite dish of the lot. (Yes, my favourite is a big, fat cliche - but I don't care because it was a big, fat succulent piece of... well, we'll come to it in time). The chips were miniscule but as they say, good things come in small packages and this was a damn good tender, sweet and hot package :)
Dish 2: Wagyu beef tacos with ponzu sauce
Good, but not what I expected. I'm not sure what I expected, to be honest. I think I expected meat that was slightly rare. I mean, if you are going to feed your cattle beer and massage them to keep them tender, I guess I expected just that - tender meat. But then again it was a taco so I guess I should have anticipated the ground meat. Oh well, it was a little too cooked for my liking...
Dish 3: Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno
A chef who specialises in Japanese food (note, not a Japanese chef... cough, cough, I won't mention names) once told me Japanese food is an acquired taste. You need to have a palate for its delicate flavour, an eye for presentation and respect for the quality of raw ingredients. In all three aspects, this dish was faultless.
Dish 4: Rock shrimp tempura with creamy spicy sauce
A perfectly light tempura batter, delicately cooked shrimp and a creamy, spicy, yuzu dashed-mayonnaise coating sprinkled generously through with chives made this an excellent addition to our table... and tummies.
Dish 5: O-toro
The fattiest and most desirable bit of the tuna belly, you only have to look at this perfectly marbled pink chunk of o-toro - like the fishy equivalent of bacon - to know it tasted good! In the absence of green tea to warm our mouths, we made our best efforts with ummm... saliva (which wasn't really hard as our watering mouth's readily obliged), placed the o-toro on our tongues and felt it melt away....mmmmm.
Dish 6: Baby octopus toban yaki
On first bite the octopus toban yaki didn't seem very special but it sort of grew on me the more I ate it - especially when I found the spongy bed of mushrooms underneath. Although, saying that, it did seem more mushroom than octopus... No real complaints but I'm more in favour of a tart dressing on octopus, so moving along...
Dish 7: Ta da... black cod with yuzu miso
The dish that got me to Nobu. And would bring me back. It is SIMPLY. AMAZING. Sweet, succulent, firm yet buttery... yes, people may say Nobu needs a new trick up his sleeve but I don't see why. This is the sort of trick the tastebuds appreciate most! I could eat a whole cod prepared this way! Although I know that probably makes me a very bad person...
And finally... Dish 8: Roasted duck breast with orange miso
After the cod, I'd defy most dishes to make a significant impression. The duck was tender and tasty... We were advised to have it medium. Not sure if medium-rare would have been better, but I won't complain.
We decided to move elsewhere for dessert (one that sadly never materialised so perhaps we should have tried what Nobu had to offer). Still, the above parade of dishes, though diminutive in size (especially in relation to their um, shall we say premium price?), filled up a good three hours of tasting and talk, so I would definitely rate it a success :)
(PS: Especially when sealed with a Ginger Kiss - the spicy, sweet cocktail made from Nobu Shochu, ginger, orange blossom, peach bitters, pineapple and lemon that accompanied my meal that evening.)
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