Dining in paradise has begun to reopen after its little over three-months-long closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Atlantis has begun its reopening with a restaurant that just so happens to offer one of the most-sought after cuisines – Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s innovative style in which he puts his spin on traditional Japanese fare to create a unique dining experience.
Nobu is now open three nights per week, Thursday through Saturday, during July with its Summer Nights experience which also features a fruit-infused sake two-hour happy hour.
Seating is physically distanced indoors as well as outdoors, as the dining outpost has opened its patio which I hadn’t even known existed, or you can opt for take-out.
But as Chef Sean O’ Connell, general manager and vice president of food and beverage at Atlantis, says of the reopening, they’re ensuring they’re doing it right in this new coronavirus atmosphere, to ensure safety of guests and patrons.
With 40-plus restaurants at the resort, they decided on reopening Nobu first owing to the dining outpost’s dynamic nature which places a high focus on seafood, sustainable and clean food. Nobu, which reopened one week ago, is popular with locals and visitors alike owing to its brand appeal.
It also reopened with a thinned-out menu. O’Connell says they took away about 20 percent of the menu to protect the integrity of the resort’s evolved clean and safe protocols to ensure people feel safe to return to dining at the iconic resort. The restaurant’s stations have been reconfigured in this COVID-19 era, are sustainable and O’Connell says they don’t want them overloaded, to ensure they don’t have to overstaff, to ensure they protect the integrity of the sanitation protocols put in place and ensure their clean workflow is solid.
Atlantis and O’Connell only want you to be concerned about what you’re going to order, and whether you’re going to order from the Nobu Classic dishes or the more contemporary offerings from the “Now” side of the menu – or a combination.
During my visit on Saturday, I opted for one of the 42 tables on the patio since I’d never dined on the patio, and I figured it would be incredibly romantic, overlooking the water as the sun set, as I dined with my hubby. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had “thoughts of her own”. It rained all day which meant we were switched to an indoor table, which worked out just as fine as the physical distancing was clearly evident from previous visits and staff and guests were able to walk without fear of brushing into anyone. As he seated me at the indoor table, Carl Habel, Nobu general manager, assured me it was one of the most romantic indoor seats and personally delivered a tray of the fruit-infused sakes. They offer three flavors: pineapple, passionfruit and wild berry.
Chef Stephen Holland also presented an amuse bouche – a Japanese tostado with king crab with a yuzu vinaigrette, avocado puree and cilantro – a one-biter so delicious it set the tone for the remainder of the meal.
With Japanese cuisine one of my all-time favorite foods, deciding what to order is always a problem, because you want it all. Going into the evening, the one thing I had decided was that I was not going to order the black cod with miso, a Nobu signature classic dish that I usually have every time I visit – it’s simply just that good.
I told myself that I was going outside the box and trying something new, but what I did notice was that when it was all said and done, I had mixed the Classics with the Now.
I started out with the classic yellowtail jalapeno – a dish in which the fish shines, topped with razor-thin slices of jalapeno for a hint of spice and bathed in a yuzu ponzu sauce, a citrus-based sauce with a tart-tangy flavor that perfectly balances the dish. The yellowtail jalapeno is one of those craveable bites that awakens the palate for the remainder of your meal and should not be missed.
Having had the crispy rice with spicy tuna from the Now menu before, my server, Hearn Duncombe, suggested he would surprise me with another way the dish could be had, so I sat back to see what would be done with this appetizer that combines crispy rice with creamy, yet slightly spicy tuna. He delivered it deconstructed which allowed you to build your bite. It did not disappoint.
And even though I went into the meal telling myself I would not order the black cod with miso, it was a challenge to not do so. This sweet-savory fish dish is perfect. The sweetness of the miso just works with the plumpness of the delicate flaky fish which they cook perfectly. If you haven’t had this signature item, you’re missing out.
After waging war with myself and seeking the assistance Duncombe, I decided on the dry-aged ribeye, from the Now menu, simply because you can’t beat a perfectly cooked medium rare ribeye, and the fact that it was dry-aged to further concentrate the flavor, was enticing. My hubby opted for his tried and true lamb chops from the Classic menu, which we shared with the Maine lobster (Bahamian lobster season is closed), again from the Classic side, with a spicy garlic sauce per Duncombe’s suggestion as opposed to the wasabi pepper to get that heat that I wanted. A side of the much-loved warm mushroom salad.
To complete the meal, I knew I was going to indulge in the classic sata andagi – dark chocolate-filled donuts with almond ice cream, caramelized pistachios and a raspberry reduction. Believe me, these donuts will get you in so much trouble, they’re so sinful. Bite into these warm bites to find luscious dark chocolate, which if you’re not careful will spill out onto your chin. Up the experience by dragging the donut through the raspberry reduction…because dark chocolate and raspberry sauce are a match made in heaven.
And my husband completed his meal with one of his all-time favorite desserts – cheesecake. At Nobu, the bruleed vanilla bean cheesecake is served with a beautiful passion fruit sorbet, golden vanilla glaze and caramelized pistachios.
As we ordered dessert, Holland surprised us with a pre-dessert dessert that was absolutely stunning in its lightness, but packed an ability to satisfy the sweet tooth – a coconut shaved ice with pina colada ice cream and side of simple syrup; he encouraged you to eat the ice and sip the simple syrup together for that perfect taste.. Nobu offers a shaved iced on its Now dessert menu, featuring shaved ice with vanilla ice cream, candied pecans and strawberry coulis which I had overlooked, but the chef’s surprise has left me in a quandary going forward, because it’s going to be tough deciding between the sata andagi and the Nobu shaved ice.