Tuesday, 15 July 2008

NOBU Melbourne

Most of us would have heard of Nobu. It is a chain of restaurants started in the US, a collaboration between Robert De Niro and Nobu Matsuhisa, a chef known for his fusion cuisine - traditional Japanese dishes with a twist, incorporating South American (Peruvian and Argentinian) ingredients. Nobu's flagship Manhattan restaurant is apparently a renowned hang-out for A-list stars...a place for star-spotting :)

Well, we can't expect to run into Paris Hilton in Nobu Melbourne, but Grant Hackett and his wife was there on CC's birthday :)

So anyway, with all the hype, CC decided that she would like to have her birthday dinner (this was last year) there...and that was our first visit to Nobu.

I have to say...while going through a few websites in my research for the restaurant's address and menu, more than 90% of the reviews were negative (I am NOT exaggerating) and most of them complained about the service...many had good things to say about the food (nevertheless, some weren't impressed by the food either).

I will go through the food first, and then you will get my honest opinion :)

So...first visit was on CC's birthday last year.

started with edamame $6

I don't know if they actually charged us because I wouldn't order this...the waitress sort of just brought it along I think...because we started with edamame the 2nd visit as well. Anyway, some of the items are no longer on their menu so I can't quote the price for some of them!

So basically, in Nobu, you order a whole bunch of stuff and everyone shares. There are no entrees or mains (or anything filling for that matter...but wait, I'll get to that)

The cold dishes :

prawn cocktail...we did not like the bitter leaves

yellowtail sashimi with jalapenos

I LOVE this...but I can't find it on their online menu...don't tell me they took it off! It is one of the few reasons I would go back to Nobu :(

beef tataki - also can't find it on their online menu...maybe it is known as another name...reason no.2 for my revisit :)

Sushi - very standard, nothing special at all

scallop & smelt egg $14, eel & cucmber $13

Hot dishes :

2 pieces - gone in one mouthful $4.50

fresh soft shell crab karaage $20

the famed black cod with miso $42 - melts in your mouth...all of us love it!

this is a cold dish...which we ordered at the end because we were not full at all and this was the only thing they had with noodles in it...and even then, only a few strands...mostly made up of something that tasted like archichoke to me (I haven't eaten much archichoke in my life)...didn't like it

Dessert :

wam chocolate satandagi with almond ice cream $18 - not too memorable

mochi no youna $15 - interesting dessert with 'miso sponge'...I thought it would be weird to mix something salty with sweets, but turned out to be yummy!

There are a few things I really like there, so when mum and little sis came to Melbourne, sis & I brought them there for the must-trys :)...and hence my 2nd visit.

Unfortunately, being hopeless at directions, we got lost after finding the carpark to Crown closed (which was where I intended to park) I drove into some tunnel that took me goodness-knows-where, and we had to navigate our way back to crown AND continue hunting for parking. Finally we made it to Nobu, incredibly late for our booking...and we had to give up the table in less than an hour. Needless to say, it was a very rushed dinner...which spoilt the experience.

Again, we started with edamame ...and my 'must haves'

1. yellowtail sashimi with jalapenos
- no good photo this time all the photos are a bit blurry this time round

2. beef tataki

3. black cod with miso

New things we tried :

mushrooms cooked in sake - I love mushrooms...but the taste of the alcohol was too overwhelming

seasonal vegetables with spicy garlic sauce $18 - erm...like any old chinatown restaurant, just much smaller serving...I would never order this but mum insisted on vegetables

beef gyoza ~$37 - they have a whole range of different beef, I remember the wagyu one was $72...this was not bad, different from other gyozas I've had

prawn tempura with sauces - unimpressive...even the bowl is not up to standard...tsk tsk

scallop sashimi - I really like this...I think I just like the freshness of sashimi...mmm...only thing, it wasn't cold enough for me

soft shell crab sushi $20 - it was good, little sis loved it :)

So, my take on Nobu Melbourne?

Generally, they do have a few things that make me want to go back - i.e. miso cod, yellowtail sashimi, beef tataki...unless I can find them somewhere else. Otherwise, there are options elsewhere for the similar things e.g. soft shell crab roll - nice but is it worth $20 for 6 pieces?? (I don't think so) Ambience? I wasn't impressed...when I was describing it to my mum, I went 'the tables are like the ones at the hawker centres (in penang)'...as in the design :) Many people complained about the snap-apart chopsticks...and the lousy service...I guess in short, paying fine-dining price when the restaurant doesn't present itself that way. I have no huge complaints about the service...it was good on CC's birthday and all the rush the 2nd time was my fault mostly (sigh)...maybe wasn't as attentive as most fine-dining restaurants.

Another thing, the portions are really small so either be prepared to pay a lot, or eat something else before or after...haha. Actually, be prepared to pay a lot and still not feel full...We paid about $350 for 4 the 2nd time and still had room for desserts, a cheese platter and drinks somewhere else.

I just ask Mouse and San to describe Nobu in 3 words :

Mouse : miso black cod

MM : about the restaurant! not the food!

Mouse : well, that's all it is to me *shrugs*


San : won't feel full


Well, I have to go up to 4 words - poor value for money

There you go :)


Nobu Melbourne
Crown Melbourne Australia
8 Whiteman Street
VIC 3006
03 9696 6566


san said...

hahaha..i like it man. could not believe tt u actually dig out the Nobu's pics and write about it as we went there approximately 1 year ago. neway, like the pink fonts and the arrows.lol. quite refreshing i have to say =) *muaks*back to Nobu, 2 memorable dishes for me are the yellowtail sashimi n miso cod. for the rest eg shushi, prawn coctails n etc, all were pretty average. In memory, the service was quite good... however, the portions of the food there were quite small. So yea, not quite worth the $$ tt we hav paid. Neway, thanks manman (aka MM) for the post =)

New Kid on the Blog said...

Hey, long time no see.... good to see you back here!!!! :)

thanh7580 said...

When Nobu first opened, I was caught up in the hype too and really wanted to go. But since, I've read so many reviews which, like you say, is 90% negative. And it's not all about the service either. Some of the food may be good, but when you have to order $250 worth of it each (a friend did that) to be full, that's too pricey.

Good honest review, its helped me to make up my mind. I won't be going to Nobu unless its free or it changes and becomes cheaper.

Dhanggit said...

thanks for making me drool with all these japanese goodies!! yummy

too bad we dont have a nobu restaurant in the corner :-(

Towser said...

Hey welcome back! Thought we'd lost you guys for good for awhile there. Good comprehensive review of Nobu. Kinda agree with the conclusions; gotta order with care there to get the most out of the experience.

Hungry Hamster said...

Thanks for the review! Would love to try the black miso cod!