The other month, we headed to lunch at Nobu. Truthfully, I had heard so many mixed reviews about Nobu, combined with reports about how expensive it is, that I had never been that keen to go. But when I found out that they do a deal at lunch time for $57, which includes an entrée, main with miso soup, rice, and dessert, I figured it was worth a shot. So I roped in Maria and Daz from the Gourmet Challenge and off we went.
The menu for Nobu is long and it’s not terribly descriptive, so Bro and I pored over the menu beforehand to ensure that we weren't caught out on the day (don't you hate being in a restaurant and ordering hastily and then having food envy when the food arrives?). For the lunch deal, not everything is included – premium items like wagyu, lobster, and the signature black cod with miso aren’t available for example – but that still leaves plenty of choice. The menu isn’t specifically set up in categories like entrees and mains, but we assumed that the first section - "special appetizers" were entrees and the rest of the menu were considered mains.
Alastair ordered the sashimi tacos with yellowtail tuna, salmon, lobster and crab. I'm not sure what the tacos were made out of, but the crispy shells were filled with fresh sashimi and quite tasty.
Bro and Maria both ordered the beef fillet tataki, with onion ponzu and garlic chips. This was really nice, the thin slices of rare beef just seared on the outside and served in a sharp, tangy, salty sauce.
I had the tuna tataki with tosazu. Like the beef, it was just seared on the outside, and the thin, tender slices of tuna were in a vinegary soy sauce.
We also received a bowl of miso soup, which was pretty standard.
For mains, it wasn’t immediately clear what we could order. I assumed that everything past a certain point was considered a "main" and was part of the deal, barring the exceptions. Turns out, the waiter wasn’t entirely sure as well, but assumed what I assumed!
Alastair had the soft shell crab kara age. It looked really good, and I didn't hear any complaints from him about it. I really liked the way it was presented - look at that mushroom!
Maria had the tempura baby tiger prawn with creamy spicy sauce. This photo cracks me up - when I went to take a photo, Maria flashed the peace sign without warning me. Naturally, I had to include it in this post! Maria's prawns were cooked really well, and tasted great with the creamy sauce.
Daz had the wagyu gyoza with goma ponzu. Normally $37, could they be the most expensive dumplings in Melbourne?! I didn't try any, but they did look and smell good.
Bro had the wagyu intercostal with seasonal vegetables and wasabi salsa. I think this was the best dish of the day - the beef was super tender with a bit of smokiness and the wasabi salsa gave a nice kick to the dish. It smelt so amazing too. Bro ordered very well!
And I ordered something from the grill menu – beef sirloin steak. There was a choice between three choices: teriyaki, wasabi pepper or anti-cucho sauce. I selected wasabi pepper.
I requested it medium rare. It was cooked really well, but it wasn't as tender as I thought it could have been. I did really like the sauce though, but it was quite a lot of meat for one person and I did end up trying to foist slices on to the others!
The menu at Nobu is really designed for sharing – but with the lunch deal we all ordered our own dishes (tasting one another's of course). So the timing of dishes, particularly the mains, was off – mine was the last to come out and it was at least 15 minutes after everyone elses. The waiter explained that this was due to the fact that Nobu had seven different kitchens (orly?). If we had been sharing the dishes,we might not have noticed the timing issue, but since we weren't it really made us wonder about the seven kitchens.
For dessert, Daz and I both ordered the green tea trifle mousse layered with vanilla brûlée, almond and coconut meringue and milk chocolate ice cream, with lime and vanilla foam. I loved the way it was presented, and I enjoyed it. It wasn't too sweet, or not too rich, and I found the green tea mousse nice and smooth with the almond and coconut meringue providing some crunchy contrast. I didn't really eat the toffee, but it was very pretty!
Alastair had the Suntory whisky cappuccino layered with crunchy coffee cacao, coffee crème brûlée, milk ice cream and Yamazaki whisky foam. His dessert was very small compared to the other ones, and looked just like a coffee.
Bro had the tofu cheesecake with green tea crumble, berry compote and tuile. When the dessert arrived at the table, the compote was presented in a separate bowl. The waiter, noticing that we were taking photos, offered to pour the compote on top of the dessert for us so we could get a good shot. We all stifled giggles as the compote just plopped on to the dessert in a big blob. Not sexy at all, but points to him for trying!
Maria had the warm chocolate satandagi filled with pistachio and chocolate ganache in a Japanese bun and served with caramelised pistachios, berry coulis and almond ice cream. They looked like big balls with a chocolate filling!
I thought the lunch deal was good value - but only if you order carefully. I wouldn't mind going back to Nobu again for lunch. There is a $45 bento box that I noticed other tables ordering that looked good, but I doubt I will ever eat there at dinner time. It is expensive. When I go to a restaurant, particularly a fine dining one, I realise that prices on items are going to be higher because I'm also paying for service, the fit out, etc. And that's fine - it's part of the experience. However, there is a point where a mark up just seems to be taking the piss – and Nobu reached that point for me. $40-$50 mains can be okay, but when a bowl of miso soup costs $6.50, a bowl of rice costs $4.50, or a milk coffee is $5.70, as it is at Nobu, it just seems ridiculous. But maybe that's just me!
See what Maria thought of the meal.
6 Whiteman St
Southbank VIC 3006
Phone: (03) 9292 7879