Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nobu, Berkeley Street

So my birthday was last week, and I enjoyed a delicious meal at Nobu in Berkeley Street.

Nobu is fairly well-known, if not very well-known, and gets referenced in movies, reality TV, and other venues fairly frequently. It's an international chain, with the NY locations being the most famous. The most popular dish is miso-marinated black cod, which we did not have because my husband actually makes a really nice miso-marinated regular cod and I figured it was better to imagine it's just as good, than to be proven right or wrong. ;)

Anyway, there was a time it was one of the big places to spot celebrities in London, but I think it's luster has worn just a bit - it's still a great location with good food & excellent staff, but it's just not riding the trendy wave at the moment. Frankly, I think that makes it a great place to go and celebrate something. I didn't really like the idea of being upstaged on my own birthday by say, a one Mrs. Charlize Theron tucking into a big hunk of lobster without even getting butter on her chin. Luckily the diners around us were normal, everyday folk who didn't accidentally shame me with their beauty, fame, or money. My kinda environment!

Seems we were feeling quite fishy that day, as we went with a real ocean spread. Starting off with 'crispy rice & spicy tuna', which might've been my favorite of the entire meal! It takes guts to go ahead and say, "Yeah, it's crispy rice. Gotta problem? It was by choice." considering that rice is so frequently applauded for being fluffier, softer, or stickier than thou.

This one was crispy through and through, and delicious for it! The spicy tuna on top was coated in a lovely creamy, spicy sauce. The tuna itself was mild & soft. The crispness of the rice, don't let it fool you - there was not that much chew to it - but it didn't stick to my teeth, which is what I was afraid of. I would really describe it as 'crispy', rather than chewy or crunchy. In the same way puffed rice is crisp, this had that sort of edge - but softer.

Next up was shrimp in creamy spicy sauce - you could have it tempura style, or 'regular'. We opted for un-tempura, as we had our eyes on an upcoming fried dish that is nuts. The shrimp served was massive, split nicely with the tails still on for what I can only presume is easy handling. The spicy sauce reminded me of a lot of Japanese food, like when you're served something there that comes with 'spicy mayo' it's quite a bit like that. Simple, but effective. The giant shrimps themselves I believe must've been wood grilled, because they had a really nice sort of char, wood grilled steak taste alongside the sweetness of the shrimp itself. This was probably my favorite dish of the night.

The main course for my birthday I had already decided on - a fine lobster tempura. I couldn't believe what I was seeing! Who'd ever thunk it - frying a lobster? Only in a Downeaster's fevered dreams could I imagine such a thing existing, and yet here it is. I think it's an entire lobster, taken apart, and tempura-fried. It's probably not the best lobster on Earth, but for the love of all that's good it's fried. What a world. As you might expect it tasted pretty awesome, with that soft & crispy batter that tempura is known for - and the delicate, buttery flesh that lobster has.

While it was definitely an amazing experience, I probably wouldn't order something like this again - I feel that perhaps when it was fried, some parts of the lobster got to be kinda chewy. Whatever the case was, that slightly disappointed me. There were some pieces that were perfectly soft, but others had a bit of toughness & chew that just wasn't good. This dish also came with a couple of dipping sauces, which didn't make a huge impression - yuzu truffle & spicy lemon garlic. I think I liked the yuzu one better of the two, but neither were really Earth-shattering. It was definitely worth the experience, but like I said, probably not a repeat order for most people, including me..

We ordered a couple of different desserts, but I can hardly remember my husband's so I can only review mine, whoops! His was the Macana - I remember it was well balanced with nuttiness & citrus zing.

I ordered the Eki-Nox, which was 'goma' and white chocolate mousse (two separate layers, I believe) with orange & chocolate cream, and a genmaicha ice cream. I had no idea what goma was, but it turns out it's sesame. Perhaps it's a different sort of sesame than I'm used to, as I didn't get much of the salty, kind of peanutty taste that I usually get with sesame flavored things. That's not to say it wasn't good, as it had a savory edge that made the white chocolate seem less sweet - and therefore, easier to wolf down. The genmaicha ice cream was super, genmaicha being the Japanese brown rice tea. It had a lovely roasted flavor which was very unique in an ice cream format. If you've ever had genmaicha, you'd recognize the taste straight away - very well done.

It was very sweet that when ordered our desserts they had done a nice little presentation for my birthday. I had just mentioned on the reservation that it was my birthday, figuring it couldn't hurt - and I was right. It was just a good level of specialness, with a candle & some sweet chocolate writing, I knew it wasn't going to be the kind of place where they sing to you - and I was glad, haha. It did make me feel happy - definitely the right amount of attention.

Over all it was a really great place to celebrate a special occasion - the servers were all nice & attentive at the right times & gone the rest of the evening. It's also interesting to note that they had a lunch menu with quite reasonable prices, takeaway (hard to imagine that level of luxury!) and also just a varied menu pricewise in general. It sounds expensive, but I believe you could enjoy Nobu on the cheapish if you came in with a plan & didn't have any alcohol! I'd happily go again, but probably for the lunch menu to keep my budget in mind.