Thursday, April 26, 2012

Memorable Meal: Nobu Birthday Dinner

"The food at Nobu can be described in two ways - quite simply: heaven on earth and SEX on a plate." - Actor Kate Winslet.

We couldn't agree more with Kate's comments about the famous Japanese restaurant. Having a birthday celebratory dinner at Nobu was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to San Diego. We decided on indulging in the Omakase - Chef's Choice 9-course dinner. We requested two separate Omakase dinner selections, and besides the sushi course, which could not be changed, we tasted a total of 16 different dishes.
The Omakase went from mild in flavors/tastes to over-the-top party on your taste buds. We couldn't resist munching on a bowl of edamame before deciding on the Omakase.


And since it was a birthday and we were on vacation and we were thirsty we ordered signature cocktails. The Eva Sakura was a delicious reinvention of the traditional old fashioned cocktail made with 12-year Japanese whisky, Nobu Reserve Shochu, vermouth and Luxardo maraschino syrup. This got us thinking about all the possible ways to preserve those lovely cherries from last summer currently in the freezer. Whiskey soaked cherries anyone?

Japanese Old Fashion Cocktail

The first courses arrived served in enormous chilled bowls holding Kumamoto Oysters in Three Nobu Sauces and Hamachi Tartar with Caviar. Both dishes were so mild with the delicate sauces elevating the simple salty tastes of the seafood. The two bowls came adorned with a small Japanese mountain peach that doubled as plate decoration and a palate cleanser.

First Course - Oysters

Hamachi Tartar Second Course

The second course included sashimi. Fluke Sashimi with Dried Miso and Salmon New Style. Both came on a bed of gelatinous nori. Delicate, delicious and way sexy. The different toppings on the fishes elevated the dishes to a whole new level.

Second Course - Fluke Sashimi with Dried Miso
Second Course # 2 - Salmon New Style Sashimi

By the time the third courses arrived the sun had gone down and the restaurant had slowly turned their house lights super low for ambiance, so the following photos do no justice to the food. Our apologies. The third courses consisted of more fish, but this time lightly seared and served with salad greens rolled up in daikon sheets that resembled a sushi roll with a mustard miso dressing . Yellow Fin Tuna Tetaki with Karashi Su-Miso and Kampachi Tetaki with Karashi Su-Miso. Beautiful and delicious.

Third Course - Yellow Fin Tuna Tetaki with Karashi Su-Miso
Third Course# 2 - Kampachi Tetaki with Karashi Su-Miso

The fourth courses moved on to heavier flavors. Rock Shrimp Tempura in a Spicy Cream Sauce and Squid Pasta in a Light Garlic Sauce. The Rock Shrimp had a terrific snap to them contributed by the tempura and the fresh rock shrimp. The Squid Pasta looked like and tasted exactly like conchigle pasta, but it was squid! Served with shiitaki mushrooms and asparagus cut to the same length and size tossed in a garlic-togarashi butter sauce. These two courses were fantastic.

Course Four - Rock Shrimp Tempura in a Spicy Cream Sauce
Course Four # 2 - Squid Pasta in a Light Garlic Sauce

Now that our palates were ready for saltier foods, the fifth courses were the heaviest of the night. The next courses consisted of Wagyu Beef Toban Yaki which came sizzling with 2 kinds of mushrooms and asparagus and a Black Cod with Miso. Best description of both these dishes would be a furious ride thru four tastes. One second your mouth thinks its salty, sweet and bitter then quickly evolves into a well balanced savory deliciousness.

Course Five - Wagyu Beef Toban Yaki
Course Five # 2 - Black Cod with Miso

We were now bursting at the seams and wasn't sure if we could power through the remaining 3 courses! But we did our best. The sushi course came next. Our own personal sushi bowls with 5 pieces of nigiri and a egg custard type of tamago which was different from the typical rolled type of omelet. The squid nigiri was unlike anything we have seen before with heat curled marks on the squid. The perfectly formed rice bases highlighted the pieces of sushi beautifully.

Course Seven - Nigiri Sushi Set

We think the staff could tell we were struggling with the last courses so they quickly brought the eighth course which was delicious miso soup and a clam miso. Wonderfully warm and light, the perfect palate cleanser of the night.

Course Eight - Miso Clam Soup

And the ninth and final course was dessert. We got a chocolate lava cake with green tea sorbet served in a bento box and Anne got a very special dessert for her birthday - deconstructed s'mores. That is marshmallow ice cream, chocolate torte on a base of graham cracker and sesame brittle. Beautiful and so yummy.

Anne's Birthday Dessert

This whole meal could easily be a death bed meal. Something we could never... well, without much practice, time and money, be able to recreate ourselves. It was superb and memorable on so many levels. Nobu Matsuhisa is indeed a culinary genius!

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