I absolutely love when I’ve dined at a restaurant on countless occasions, and can still be amazed at a dish, to the point where I just want to sit back and ponder the flavors playing across my palate. That was the case during my first dining out venture of the new year, which happened to be at the uber-popular Nobu restaurant at the Atlantis.
I am always tempted to have the signature miso black cod, which is one of those menu items that is always a hit but, on my recent visit, I sought suggestions from my server Clayton Wilson who suggested the lobster shiitake salad with spicy lemon dressing and the Chilean seabass with balsamic teriyaki – menu items that I had never tried before.
Dining on New Year’s Day, I figured, I’m going to put my trust in Wilson … new year, new experience, let’s have a go at it.
I went with Wilson’s suggestions, which both came from the classic side of the menu. (Nobu’s menu breaks down into two main concepts – classic dishes and now.) Classic dishes are those that have been with Nobu since the beginning, and that are, in part, responsible for making the brand what it is today – like the miso-marinated black cod, rock shrimp tempura, yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, and king crab tempura. The now dishes are, in most cases, born out of regional flare, and each Nobu location experiments with local ingredients to create dishes that represent and embody the destination.
Wilson’s suggestions came from the classic menu. I can tell you now that he was spot on with his tips.
The lobster shiitake salad with spicy lemon dressing is visually stunning – and again stunning on the palate with its zingy, citrusy, spicy dressing bathing a half lobster and salad greens leaves and a ton of mushrooms. I’m already looking forward to the day when I can have this dish again.
The Chilean sea bass with balsamic teriyaki is absolutely outstanding. The pan-seared filet was cooked to perfection and served sitting in a pool of balsamic teriyaki, that added just the right hint of sweetness. Dare I say, it’s a dish that’s going to give the miso-marinated black cod a run for its money as far as I’m concerned. And don’t get me wrong, the cod is still a frontrunner but the sea bass can, with balsamic teriyaki, definitely holds its own.
The lamb chops yakimono from the classic side is, as always, stellar.
And one appetizer that I keep going back to time and again is the crispy rice with spicy tuna from the “now” menu – crispy, fried rice cakes served with a pre-mixed bowl of “spicy tuna” – this is just hands-down delicious. After one bite, you will understand why these are so special. It’s one of my tried and true favorites.
For dessert, I decided to steer myself away from my tried and true favorites and opted for the Nobu shaved ice – shaved ice which tops vanilla ice cream and candied pecans and drizzled with strawberry coulis. While Wilson suggested the entrées, I went out on a limb for dessert. It was a dessert that I was introduced to a while back by a chef that is no longer with the property, and I enjoyed then, and figured would be good to have again. What was put before me was unlike that first iteration, which was dainty and cute and a nice conclusion to the meal. This time, the shaved ice was a huge portion, and it was just alright, to me. I should have stuck with my tried and true favorites – either the sata andagi (dark chocolate filled donuts with almond ice cream, caramelized pistachios and raspberry reduction) or the vanilla cheesecake (brûléed vanilla bean cheesecake with passionfruit sorbet, golden vanilla glaze and caramelized pistachios) or opted for the first time to try the miso cappuccino (chocolate miso crème with vanilla ice cream, caramelized pecans and cappuccino foam). Maybe next time.
Despite my dissatisfaction with dessert, the dishes I indulged in at Nobu, which is an unlikely blend of classic Japanese cooking with influences from Peru and Europe, made for a delightful start to the new year.