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Report on Valentine's Dinner at Nobu Next Door

d
Dena Feb 15, 2001 01:02 PM

My husband took me to Nobu Next Door for dinner last night. It was my first visit but I sincerely hope it won’t be my last.

We arrived at about 6:00 p.m. and were greeted by a fairly long line at the door. Many of the hopeful got to the host’s podium, spoke for a minute or two, then turned around and left, so I expressed some concern. No problem, I was assured. And there wasn’t. As it turned out, they had actually taken reservations for a special Valentine’s Day dinner and ours was for 6:15. The sushi bar was closed and they were only offering a choice of two omikase dinners: a 7-course meal for $120 p.p. and an 8-course meal for $160 p.p. We opted for the latter and it was truly astounding.

1) Kumamoto Oyster with Beluga Caviar. This was a serving of four of the smallest oysters I’ve ever seen. (But then, I admit to having a limited frame of reference.) The oysters were placed in their shells atop a reduction of Maui onion and cucumber juice (I think). A small sheet of edible gold leaf lay over the four oysters and a tiny dollop of caviar topped each one, over the gold leaf.
2) New Style Sashimi with Fresh Truffles. Three or four ultra-thin slices of salmon (white fish for me in concession to my allergy to salmon). The fish slices were laid top a few small mushrooms of a type I’ve never seen before – larger than enoki and light tan/brown in color. The whole was napped and surrounded by an extremely light sauce that I can’t adequately describe, but I know there was a touch of sesame oil in it. And there were see-through slices of white truffle.
3) Toro Sashimi Salad with Jalapeno Dressing. The small dish was covered in a beautiful, lime-green sauce and there were four jewel-like squares of toro nestled in among the baby lettuce leaves. I ordinarily don’t care for hot stuff, but the jalapeno dressing was truly delicious. And I’ve been eating toro for years but, until last night, I’ve never had it actually melt on my tongue.
4) Broiled Lobster Crusted with Panko and Truffle Butter. Says it all, I think. A claw and half a tail with a small salad that included little pieces of fingerling potatoes, surrounded by a sprinkling of lobster roe.
5) Braised Kobe Beef Cheeks Harumaki with Hearts of Palm and Foie Gras. Omigod. This was a crisply fried spring roll, sliced in half (on a slant, of course) and plated with a small piece of perfectly seared foie gras and drizzled around with a maple soy reduction. Undoubtedly the star of my meal.
6) Assorted Sushi and Soup. This really was served in two courses – first the miso soup, which was the only item in the entire menu that was even remotely pedestrian. Not to say that it wasn’t good, certainly! My dish had toro, tuna, fluke, Spanish mackerel and eel. My husband had the same except, in place of the eel, he had pink shrimp (another of my allergies). Each piece was a perfect little gem, and all had the same sensual, melting texture. Neither of us even likes Spanish mackerel but, at these prices, we figured we’d eat it anyway and it was fabulous!
7) Yamamomo Granite. Yamamomo is a small Japanese berry that’s similar to a raspberry, but it has a central seed. It’s slightly sweet and slightly tart. The granite was served in a miniature martini glass, topped with a berry. This was to cleanse the palate before the real dessert.
8) Ginger Spice Heart Cookies with White Chocolate Mousse and Raspberry Sauce. Completely unexpected in a Japanese restaurant, this was a marvelous dessert! The plate was covered in raspberry sauce with some tiny red berries (don’t know what they were). In the center was a thin heart-shaped cookie with a generous dollop of white chocolate mousse, topped with a heart-shaped cutout cookie.

I know that this wasn’t a typical NND meal, but surely it must be indicative of the kind of quality and thought and generosity of spirit that’s reflected in everything they offer. I can’t wait to go back and sit at the sushi bar and say, “Omikase, please.”