Nobu is a name linked to celebrity, it’s often cited as the restaurant of choice for the rich and famous and most of the scurrilous rags have endless pictures of celebs stepping out of the glass doors. In recent years, Nobu has lost its Michelin star status but it doesn’t seem to have dimmed it’s popularity and when it came to my birthday this year, I knew exactly where I wanted to go!
We left the sprog at home with his grandmother, but suffering from a bit of new-parent guilt, we booked ourselves in for a slightly early dinner so that we could be home in good time. We started our evening at Fifty9 bar on Berkeley Square and since it had been rather an age since I’d had a cocktail, I opted for an Espresso Martini to give me a jolt for my evening out!
The restaurant was a little bit quiet when we arrived, but by the time we’d begun perusing the menu with our glasses of fizz in hand, it was filling up fast. It was London Restaurant Festival at the time and so we went for the special 4-course menu. They did advise that if we were especially hungry, we top up our order a little and since I’m entirely unable to resist any mention of Soft Shell crab, it was swiftly added in.
The first course was a Salmon sashimi salad with a complement of matsuhisa dressing. As you’d expect, the sashimi is buttery soft, lightly seared which I wasn’t expecting and goes beautifully with the tangy peppery dressing.
Our supplementary order of the Soft Shell Crab Harumaki came next,chunks of soft shell crab in a crispy roll with a little dollop of wasabi cream managed to be both delicately flavoured with real bite to it!
Tempura can be really hard to get right, inevitably I find that it arrives cold and the crispines of the batter starts to disappear and so I was really pleased that the vegetable tempura was absolutely spot on!
The restaurant was pretty much full now and we were having just as much fun people spotting as we were eating and drinking, so imagine my glee when we spotted Boris Becker being led to the table next to ours! He is rather well known as a big fan of Nobu and has famously admitted to his daughter being conceived on the err…. steps of the restaurant. If I was Nobu, I’m not sure I’d actually let him back in after that indiscretion…it can’t be hygienic surely!
Our mains were beef tenderloin with steamed rice and a ponzu sauce. The meat was cooked beautifully and completely melted in your mouth, although husband felt that the tomato garnish on the side deserved the most praise as the ‘best tomatoes he’d ever had’, high praise for a man who doesn’t really do salad!
I didn’t really enjoy the Ponzu sauce though, I felt it didn’t do the juicy flavour of the meat any favours and it must have shown on my face because the waiter noticed and immediately brought me a spicy alternative, a Peruvian chilli based sauce they serve with the skewers. I was so impressed that they’d picked up on my reaction and with husband preferring the Ponzu sauce, we were both happy!
Dessert came in the form of a whisky cappuccino topped with milk ice-cream, very similar to a tiramisu and I felt it let the side down a little bit as it was a little grainier than I would have liked. It was boozy and creamy though and a nice end to what was a lovely meal.
We spent rather a while trying to figure out what the outline on the menus and signage was trying to be and after much debate, finally had to ask! Can you guess what it is? It’s the outline of founder Nobu Matsuhisa holding a knife to a fish on the chopping board – clever huh!
The story of Nobu is really interesting, he trained in Japan and the States but did a stint in Peru where he adopted the local methods of cooking into traditional Japanese favourites – he was one of the front runners of the Nikkei cuisine that’s very in vogue right now. It’s no wonder the celebs are such big fans and in Boris Becker’s case, possibly a little bit too much!!