I'll start it off by saying the trip started off miserably. My ride shows up half an hour late and I end up missing my flight, get stuck on another, which thru delayed departure, forces me to miss yet another connecting flight. So, after traveling 16 hours in three airports w/ no sleep from the previous night's gig, needless to say, it was a dangerous combination of rage and exhaustion. Luckily, the nice folks at Nobu were able to accommodate, despite showing up an hour past reservation.
Half way thru our wait to be seated I catch a glimpse of a very familiar face reflecting off of a glass pane in front of me. At first i think it's some sort of statue, or maybe even a large portrait but an immediate 360 reveals that it's Nobu Matsuhisa! The famous sushi chef who hangs in my kitchen, 100+ pound tuna in hand! The one that trembles even the noblest of chefs, worthy of old testament, koran and torah amendment. Forgive the exaggerations but he's a personal idol so needles to say a handshake later I forget every rude United employee, crying baby, painful gate passed and even that god awful in-flight cheese spread. A few respectful gestures and bows later I can wholeheartedly say I am impressed by how docile and humble he is. I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to what would later be one of my favorite meals for many reasons. For the rest of the night Nobu would occasionally peak around corners, silently observing but never interrupting.
Enough fluff, time for the nitty gritty. Our waiter rocked a clean Rolex and a thick Spanish accent; charming but a bit difficult to comprehend at times. Opening the omakase is unassuming looking lobster sashimi in a light citrus sauce. I've eaten lobster ALIVE before and it doesn't get much fresher than that... or so I thought. These obvious experts in seafood selection provided lobster 10x creamier though slightly stringy towards the end.
Next was the familiar 4 panel tasting plate. 1. Squid sashimi, above par in texture and freshness but nothing to write home about. 2. tangy signature-style uni sashimi (new style w/ a hint of Central America). 3. Very consistent and deliciously buttery monkfish pate. 4. A unique sea snail served raw, in a sauce similar to traditional escargot but light and Japanese instead of heavy oil and butter.
After this was the largest amaebi (sweet shrimp) I have ever seen! The amaebi was ten inches in length served cold and raw. It was split down the middle (length wise) and ground in a salt that would seem perfect for a bloody mary. Again, as creamy and tasty as sashimi was meant to be. Our server informs us that this is the first time they've ever served the shrimp in this manner. I was one grateful lab rat to say the least (or at least was lead to believe). Seems like Matsuhisa can appeal more to the true sushi/sashimi lover (in comparison to Nobu Miami, who at this point would have served heavier sauces and 1-2 tempura dishes).
Following the theme of subtle tastes and textures is a shark fin soup w/ very generous pieces of shark and king crab (which I mistook for snow crab b/c of the large spotted shell). This was served in a very traditional clear Japanese broth, made slightly gelatinous but w/o being heavy. Served w/ matsutake mushrooms (Japanese truffles?), a perfect lead-in...
Kobe beef, beautifully marbled and tender, barely seared on each side, is served in a sauce that sits somewhere in between miso and teriyaki. This is garnished with grilled veggies and an assortment of mushrooms slightly less luxurious than that of the soup. When you're effortlessly chewing, one can't help but think how well these cows must have lived.
We turn the omakase corner w/ our sushi dish, Japanese snapper, squid, a few others but honestly NOTHING worth mentioning when compared to the silky smooth toro. Out of this world flavor and a reminder of why this cut of tuna exists in relatively small sections in the largest fish. Fish so good, biting it makes you loose track of time.
Finally two desserts- a Japanese style beignet stuffed w/ fig paste and ice cream. Also was the Japanese bento box w/ notable glazed chocolate donut. Comforting but nothing earth shattering. At this point we're the last two in the restaurant and the final course seemed a bit rushed. Already pushing my luck w/ the late arrival, I am far from complaint. Fewer courses than my previous Miami visit but better ingredients and more subtle flavoring. All in all another easy "A" for Nobu.
Other notable LA experiences:
- cow brain taco (as odd as you'd expect... think diet liver custard)
- pork stomach torta (not much different from standard pulled pork, at least in this way)
- playing at Zen Sushi (600+ concert venue, multi-floored club and sushi lounge all rolled in one, no pun intended).
This sounds much more luxurious than my experience at Nobu Malibu (which was still quite good). I'm surprised Nobu himself was there!
Glad you had such a good time and meal. I love it there. I often just tell them: be creative, and the sushi chef spins out something awesome: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/152/34...
And if you order multiple desserts, they get more creative in putting it together: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/162/34...
kev, there’s no place like home. so far i haven't found one as good as the original, but i have never left feeling cheated (and i generally drop a small fortune). i'll reserve complete judgement as i have not been to the one in ny, the one in tokyo and many others.
chica, completely and 100% agree. it's one of the few places where i have never ordered anything specific. omakase and trust in the chefs, all the way... even for lunch!
yum, are you familiar with omakase? it's where you give the chef complete control to put together a 5-8 course meal. outside of any food allergies or basic preferences (ie experimental, traditional, non-spicy, etc), you're letting the experts decide what you will eat. you set the price range you want to spend. i think they post a recommended range of $50 - $120 (per person) for all courses (before tax, tip and drinks). $120 recommended max but in actuality, sky's the limit. if you do not want to commit to omakase most entrees are in the $20 range and can vary a good degree in size. you'll get a sizeable plate in some records and barely a few bites in others. you can find a (not always current) menu here to give you a better idea: http://www.nobumatsuhisa.com/flash/fo...
hope this helps!