With two restaurants located on Old Park Lane, and Berkeley Street in Mayfair, Nobu remains a destination frequented most often by wealthy tourists and London’s rich. Often a celeb haunt, both in London but also at the multiple restaurants across the globe, Nobu could arguably be seen by many as overhyped or, in some ways, pretentious.
Yet behind all the ponce and “chi-chi-ness,” the food at Nobu is exquisite to say the least. Founded by Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, a chef that fuses traditional Japanese dishes with Peruvian ingredients, London’s Old Park lane venture was the first in Europe opening in 1997
The menu is extensive, and for those who are new to Japanese cuisine, it can often be a matter of using Google as an aid to read the menu. Of course the attentive waiting staff are also on hand to enlighten you with their wide knowledge of the menu and to provide recommendations. In line with most Asian cuisines and tradition, it is recommended that dishes are to be shared allowing you to taste and try a variety of plates.
Aspects of fusion style dishes can be seen in the Nobu style tacos. Small bite sized crunchy tacos traditional of Mexico, are served with raw fish, a choice of salmon, tuna, lobster or crab, traditionally associated with Japanese cuisine, accompanied by a spicy salsa.
More traditional Japanese style dishes include a variety of tempura, kushiyaki and Nobu’s signature dish: black cod in miso – a definite order despite being pricey at £42 a dish.
Grilled Asparagus with dried miso. £14
For those of you not frightened by the prospect of raw fish, the sushi at Nobu is of high quality. In particular, the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, and the new style scallop sashimi were particular highlights for me. Thinly sliced and marinated, the sashimi here does not have the ‘fishy’ taste that sushi protestors often complain about. You can also watch the sushi chefs at work, as the London Old Park lane restaurant has an open style sushi bar.
New Style Scallop Sashimi. £16.50.
The desserts at Nobu are in many ways westernised, exemplifying food that is certainly fusion in nature. Traditional western desserts are served with an Asian twist. Chocolate fondants are presented in a bento box accompanied by green tea ice cream; apple crumbles are served with Asian flavours such as sesame, miso and coconut; and a twist on the tiramisu includes kokuto, a brown sugar from Okinawa, Japan.
Tiramisu mousse, coffee cream, kokuto soaked lady finger, tiramisu ice cream. £11.50.
As expected the bill is certainly a bank breaker. At around £65-£100 per head dependent on the amount you order and of course drinks (cocktails are typically London priced at about £15), Nobu is not somewhere you frequent often. Whilst I am a huge believer in the mantra that good food does not have to be expensive, Nobu is the perfect example of exceptional food that comes at a price, and is an ideal restaurant for a special occasion when you may be more willing to exceed deeper into your overdraft.
Price: £65-£100 per head.