Saturday, 13 October 2012

Nobu: Top Shelf Japanese

This is a delayed review but it doesn't matter. I can still taste every single dish when I look at these pics. The food was that good. That special. My wife Yokey took me there for my birthday in September. My family very kindly paid for my meal as a birthday gift (thanks Mum, Dad and Prue!), and we couldn't have chosen a better restaurant for the occasion. Dinner at Nobu really is an event.

We didn't have entrees and mains as such - more of a selection of various styles and flavours, each delivered in rapid fire succession. If you are looking for the traditional fine dining marathon experience, Nobu isn't it. It's modern, bordering on casual (laid back jazzy house music was playing quietly in the background), but with enough flair that the experience never nears mundane.

First course was Tuna Tataki with Tosazu:


This one is an absolute cracker. It's several rectangular slices of tuna carpaccio, with little lumps and piles of condiments, not unlike what might be served with a steak tartar.There's finely sliced spring onions, shaved raw garlic, minced ginger, and a mysterious orange pastey substance - that would be the tosazu, then. The whole lot was laid down in a shallow pool of very light oil. Easily an 8 out of 10.

Next up was Toro Tartar with Caviar:


Toro is the fatty underbelly of a tuna. This simple dish is just a tartar of the toro meat, served with a subtle sauce and a generous dollop of caviar. The small green fruit is a kind of green peach, with a very gentle, complex peach flavour. It is served as a kind of aperitif, to be eaten prior to the tartar. The peach itself is delicious, but nothing can prepare you for the tuna. It is soft, smooth, velvety, fluid, sensual. It's sex, pure and simple.

After the toro tartar the next dish was bound to be slightly anti-climatic.  The Salmon with Dry Miso was nevertheless very impressive:


To be honest I can't remember exactly what was in this one. But the salmon sashimi slices were each topped with a little dry miso, lending a slight bitterness to the dish. A little central 'salad' and a mild flavoured oily dressing - something like a vinaigrette - finished the dish. Great, but not a highlight.

Great, but not a highlight, is also applicable to the Scallops with Wasabi Pepper:


This one is basically a stir-fry of scallops, mushrooms, and asparagus. It's pretty much perfectly executed but lacking the wow factor of the first two dishes. By this stage Yokey and I were wondering if Nobu had peaked too soon. It hadn't.

The Black Cod Miso is Nobu's signature dish:


It's hard to describe just how good this dish is. The fish is sweet, oily, slightly smoky, and juicily succulent. It's incredible, as good a seafood dish as I have ever eaten. If you go to Nobu, you must try it.

Dessert... I like dessert, but it's supplementary to the entrees and mains for me. I wasn't going to order anything except Yokey absolutely insisted that I must, so I ordered the special - a baked cheesecake with passion fruit sorbet:


Japanese baked cheesecakes are the best in my opinion and this didn't disappoint. Yokey ordered the bento box of chocolate fondant with green tea icecream:


The pudding was moist with a slight crust, and the liquid insides were gooey and decadent:


Decadent... that pretty much sums up the whole Nobu experience.

A few more things warrant a mention.

The service is absolutely superb. We had the same waiter for most of the night, and he was extremely knowledgeable and courteous.

The price is pretty crazy. If you look at the menu, the individual dishes aren't obscene. But the dishes aren't huge. If you plan on drinking don't be surprised if you top $200 per person.

Speaking of drinking, the drinks selection is very good, and they know how to make a dry gin martini. The sparkling mineral water comes from Scandinavia, naturally. The drinks menu has a couple of pages of sake options. I don't know much about sake, maybe this is a good selection, maybe not. But I ordered a tiny little flask of a sake which I was assured had listened to classical music as it fermented. Seriously.


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