Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Nobu. Worth the money?
Walk-Ins at Nobu (Hudson Street) seemed to be no problem Monday Night. The hostess and maitre d' were friendly, but didn't take our coats. I don't mind hanging my jacket on the back of my chair, but that should be my decision right? I'd expect a place like Nobu to check my jacket or at least ask.
We were taken to a table in the front of the restaurant, a two-top swished in a row of five or so. The tables were uncomfortably close making it inevitable to hear neighboring conversations. I know its NYC and space is limited, but I was hoping for some more privacy; especially because Nobu is expensive. Not that I was on a romantic date or anything, but I felt like the lady adjacent to me kept staring. People always check out other peoples food, which I'm ok with; but it seemed like she was paying more attention to us than her older male companion.
Our waiter greeted us after making us wait alittle. He dropped off the cocktail menu and made his rounds to the surrounding tables. I decided to get a bottle of Rodenbeck (2008) Pinot Noir after a small sample from the waiter. Normally, I'd get a white wine to pair with all the fish we'd be eating; but it was a cold night so I was wanting some red. The Rodenbeck ($64) turned out to be a good compromise as it wasn't too overpowering for the fish, yet elegant and warming. This Pinot was medium bodied and had some nice cherry and spice notes. I was originally going to get the Dobbes from Oregon (as the Williamette Valley is known to produce some awesome Pinot Noirs), but decided to go with the cheaper bottle--after all it was a Monday night!.
Nobu had some interesting specialty cocktails, most of them being martinis. Some of them looked good, but $16? My sister recommended the Mango Martini (Mango infused vodka, Campari, Mango Puree, Fresh Red shiso), but we went with the wine instead.
Our waiter went over the menu with us and recommended some of Nobu's signature dishes. We were going to get the Omakase, which is a chef's choice tasting menu; but decided to just order some dishes on our own. We started off with Yellowtail Sashimi with jalapenos ($19) which was a great starter dish. It was a light dish that woke up our palates with a nice balance of freshness, acidity and spice.
Nobu's signature Black Cod with miso ($26) was the next dish to come out. People immediately think sushi when thinking of Nobu, but the black cod with miso is one of the dishes that made Chef Matsuhisa famous. After doing some research, the dish doesn't seem too complicated; however it is a lengthy process as the black cod needs to marinate in a sake-miso marinade for 3 days. Its worth the wait as chefs all around the world have copied this signature dish.
We then got the 2 Washu Beef Sliders ($24), which are essentially Kobe Beef Sliders. These were incredible. I love fish, but when you do beef like that--its hard to beat. It might have been the most tender, juiciest beef I've ever ate. Even the hot, toasted bun carrying the beef was awesome. The sliders came with a side of onions straws and some dipping sauce. The dipping sauce was a play off of ketchup and mustard. Stef immediately went for the ketchup as it was a spicy ciracha ketchup while I dipped into the other side of the ramekin which held a delicious version of honey mustard.
Our sushi was the last item to hit the table. We got 2 pieces of each: Salmon ($10), Japanese Red Snapper ($14), and Japanese Eel ($15). We also got the house roll ($13) which was a combination of tuna, salmon, crab, avocado, cucumber, and yellowtail. The roll was huge and packed of great flavors. All the fish was super fresh and delicious.
I was telling Stef that I love eating sushi because you feel good after eating it. Sometimes we can overeat and leave ourselves uncomfortably full and/or guilty. Sushi allows me to eat healthy while also not stuffing myself. Sure you could stuff yourself with sushi, especially at an 'All you could eat' place; but I feel like I've hit a good balance.
So this takes me back to my question: Is Nobu worth the money? We spent $200 plus tip--not a bad Monday night huh? Even without the bottle of wine, the bill would have been around $70 a person. I think yes. Nobu is undoubtedly expensive, but the quality is there. The service was pretty good as our waiter was knowledgeable on the menu and payed us pretty close attention throughout the night. Our plates were also swapped out for new ones as we finished each course. The food was awesome. I think its important to try a variety of menu items, not just the sushi. The sushi was fresh and delicious, but how is that different than my local neighborhood sushi joint? I would definitely recommend going to Nobu and trying dishes such as the Black Cod with miso or the Washu Beef Sliders. Even the yellowtail with jalapenos was something deliciously unique. I think if you JUST get sushi, you'll be disappointed. The menu is loaded with lots of options from smaller hot/cold plates to entree-size portions. Order a bunch of things--treat yourself...you deserve it!