Nobu

by Susan on September 22, 2007

[Food:3.5/5]

Having dined at a number of Nobu outfits across the globe, as new Manhattan residents it seemed almost necessary to visit the flagship restaurant in TriBeCa. Nobu Matsuhisa revolutionized Japanese cuisine. Chefs around the world have mimicked his dishes and while it is now possible to have a “nobu-like” meal in many restaurants, homage must be paid to the master and to the restaurant where it all began.

The sublime interior at Nobu Tribeca, constructed of wood, stone and dotted with birch trees, successfully evokes a vision of rural Japan. More recently opened Nobu outposts feature overly slick designs and cater to a clientele often more interested in being seen than appreciating Matsuhisa’s stellar cuisine. Nobu Tribeca provides a calming and serene atmosphere where the patrons seem eager to delight in modern Japanese dishes.  

We opted to sit at the sushi bar, our favorite place to enjoy Japanese food. It seemed only right to hone in on Matsuhisa’s signature dishes and despite some guilt at our lack of originality, we eagerly ordered yellowtail sashimi and jalapeno, rock shrimp tempura, and black cod with miso. The order did, however, feel a bit low on raw fish and we quickly added in handful of sashimi pieces. The yellowtail and jalapeno is a dish that I have had at many a Japanese restaurant, well before I even dined at my first Nobu. The dish relies heavily on the taste and texture of the yellowtail, which while very good this particular night, was not excellent. (This is where I remind you that we’ve just come from Seattle, spoiled by the freshest fish and more specifically, some of the best yellowtail we’ve had anywhere.) Speaking of Seattle, one of our favorite Japanese restaurants in the Emerald City added a small garlic chip to their rendition of this starter and the added texture and crunch brought the dish to another level. (Perhaps Matsuhisa should start to borrow back some ideas.) The rock shrimp tempura was outstanding. Large pieces of meaty shrimp are perfectly battered and fried. The tempura that encases each bite of shrimp is just the right density, providing flavor balance without overpowering the shrimp. Even when you get to the bottom of the pile, and yes, it is quite a pile, the once buried pieces are still not soggy. They’ve somehow retained their crispy out layer. While you might see miso black cod on many a menu, Matsuhisa’s version is one of the best. For days before it makes its way to the grill, the black cod sits in a marinade of sake, miso, mirin, and sugar. To achieve its black, sticky and flavorful exterior, the black cod is grilled before it is baked in an oven. The process culminates in a piece of fish so luscious that it is easily devoured with chopsticks; flaky pieces of sweet fish literally fall away from the fillet. The sashimi was all very good, but nothing spectacular. All the pieces had great texture, but not overwhelmingly incredible taste.

Nobu is expensive, and though you can have similarly prepared food at a number of restaurants, there is something special about dining at Matuhisa’s first outpost. It is a bit of culinary history and worth the price of entry.

Nobu
www.noburestaurants.com
105 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-0500

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