I must sing the praises of Ubon, Nobu Matsuhisa's casual noodle-house in the Bev. Center. Usually I go there for a satisfying bowl of soba or udon (it is far superior too and much less crowded than the ultra-hip Mishima down the street), but on Sunday night we went just for the small dishes and had a tapas-style meal, which was excellent.
Among the best things we had were the sashimi salad (spring mix with seared ahi); yellow tail sashimi with jalapeno and cilantro; agadashi tofu (great, crispy-crusted tofu in benito broth); fried tofu and eggplant (in a Chinese style sweet and spicy sauce); assorted tempura, unagi rolls (very generous chuncks of grilled eel), sauteed asian mushrooms (sauteed only in butter); ceviche (scallop, shrimp and allegedly crab but I didn't see any); a rock shrimp in lime juice dish, wrapped in Boston lettuce; a soft shell crab appetizer with Ponzu sauce
Not as spectacular but still good were duck on a sizzling platter; spicy tuna rolls, shrimp tempura rolls and soft-shelled crab rolls.
We finished off with the LA Bento box, a warm chocolate cake (with liquid center) with white chocolate/shiso sauce and a scoop vanilla ice cream. One of the best warm chocolate cakes I've had.
What a great dining experience.
what about price if i may ask? and were the dishes described for two or was it more people? because from what i hear if you stay away from the noodles and order "tapas style" it can get very expensive, i'm thinking maybe $50-$60. is each small dish between $10-$14? if so then it really adds up.
I've been to Ubon three or four times and never spent as much 50 per person, but the price does vary from cheap to expensive depending on how you order. Also, I have to say, though I think it's generally a great place, the quality of food can vary a bit as well. The cod for example -- once I thought it was the best fish I'd ever eaten (nicely textured, buttery, both sweet and sour notes), another time only so so.
As for Mishima, I'd like to say a word in its defense. It's true it can be trendy and crowded, but I think overall the food is quite good -- maybe more reliable, though less gustatorially (?) spectacular than Ubon, at least in my limited experience. I recently tried the salmon skin and ablacore salads at Mishima, both great. Also an exotic range of desserts...
Only been to Ubon once but the two of us ordered three small plates and it was PLENTY o food. Leftovers and everything. I loved it, less hound-y sig other yawned. But it couldn't have been more than $25/each...now if only I could find a dining companion to go back with....
I LOVE Mishima, and god bless all the cute hipsters (and Japanese tourists and Zen study groups and rock bands and "seasoned citizens" and other peops I've loved watching there) who know their tofu salad is clearly sign of a benevolent higher power. Next time = salmon skin salad for variety. Thanks for the tip.
Yeah, it was about $50 per person for five people (including a couple of drinks) but if you just get a bowl of soba or udon and a couple of the small plates (which is our usual order), it will run you much less.
I agree with Rafi that the food at Ubon can be uneven, but when it's good, it's fantastic (as it was this night) and even when it's not at its best, it beats the flavorless broth of Mishima anyday. I have not, however, tried the Mishima salads, so maybe I will if I can get in without a two hour wait behind the hipsters.