Hey There Gourmies!
Today’s post comes with little pictures of the food, so I apologize now. I have a weird thing about taking pictures with my old school beat up camera in nice restaurants. I am also self-conscious of the flash in dark restaurants where no-flash pictures just don’t work. This restaurant was a big mixture of both.
Nobu Restaurants are located around the world, and offer an exceptional take on Japanese cuisine. Celebrities have been quoted singing their praises of the Nobu chefs and menu. Kate Winslet calls Nobu “…Heaven on Earth and Sex on a Plate”. I wouldn’t go that far, but I did greatly enjoy my meal!
While in Las Vegas, Katie wanted to celebrate with a dinner at Nobu. She has been there once before at the Hawaii location a couple of months ago, and because they don’t have a location in Chicago, Katie was itching to get to the one in Vegas.
High end sushi infused with a South American and Western flare? I wont object. You know I love me some south-western flavor.
Once seated, our waitress immediately offered us some appetizers while she got our still ice water (read: expensive menu). We ordered edamame to share. I loved this edamame. It was cooked p e r f e c t l y and offered the buttery & nutty flavor that improperly cooked edamame often lacks. They salted the pods with sea salt per usual.
Our waitress only offered us one drink menu, and didn’t get the hint after we all spent 5 minutes each looking through the menu that it was time to bring over 4 more… Honestly, the waitress wasn’t too impressive, and left me feeling almost uncomfortable. Sorry I’m not Kate Winslet lady.
After the drink menu made it to the 3 person out of the 5 at the table, she came to ask for our drink orders. We gave her the hint that we hadn’t all seen the menu yet and all she says is “okay, I’ll come back”. Not, “Oh! I’m so sorry let me grab you a couple more!”. Just a cold, I’ll come back.
Another weird thing that happened is that they wouldn’t give us our menus, even after our drink orders had well been placed, we had to ask for them! Katie and Judy said that the same thing may have happened at the Nobu in Hawaii, but that they weren’t positive. I’ve never experienced that before, so I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that restricting menus until drink orders have been made may be a tradition for high-end restaurants, or maybe even just theirs. But, quite frankly our waitress wasn’t great so I’m going to blame her instead.
After smoke signals had been made, messages had been placed in bottles, and we finally received our menus at what felt like a desert island of a table, we were then, 20 minutes later, able to assess what chef Nobu Matsuhisa had to offer.
We started by ordering small appetizer dishes, in order to later assess how much sushi we wanted to order. The first round we ordered was the Tempura Dinner, and the Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno. The tempura dinner was typical and offered the normal range of tempura fried shrimp and vegetables such as: Japanese eggplant, sweet potato, onion, asparagus, and carrot. As well as a slightly more eclectic (but still not too unusual) mix of: red bell pepper, regular eggplant, and zucchini. The menu offers avocado tempura (among other vegetables and fish as well), but to my knowledge our order didn’t come with it which is too bad because I bet that is delicious! The Yellowtail was perfect. The fish had a full thick texture and light flavor that was complimented by the full bodied hot jalapeno, and cooled down with the fresh cilantro garnish that was recommended to be added by the chef.
After our edamame and starter dishes were devoured (it was 9:45 and we hadn’t eaten since a mid-afternoon snack) we decided to go ahead and order all 3 of the maki sushi rolls that we had originally pulled out with the intention of maybe narrowing down after our appetizers. We ordered the full rolls of the: Big Eye Spicy Tuna, Salmon, and Vegetable. What do I have to say about these rolls?: immaculate. Plain and simple perfection. Each roll was perfectly made to be delicate and basic. There were no fillers or fakers here, each roll was made the way it should be. The Tuna was smooth and light, with delicate spices added to enhance the spicy tuna flavor, not a glob of spicy mayo. The Salmon was unreal. Literally flaky and buttery all at once. The Vegetable roll, although slightly too big for my own personal preference, showcased each vegetable in such a way that made each flavor compliment the next. There were no sauces or fillers, just crunchy and smooth textures complimenting fresh and earthy flavors provided by truly fresh vegetables.
Overall, our physical experience at Nobu was redeemed by the experience our senses had. I would recommend it to anyone that is curious about the world of infused cuisine, and what real sushi should taste like.
Onto Sushi facts that I think everyone should know.
A few things that I know about proper sushi and sushi etiquette is that:
-A roll is never actually supposed to be covered in sauce. Whether prepared with a special sauce by the chef himself, or dipped in soy sauce, sushi is not meant to be disguised. A wonderful piece of sushi, regardless of how many, or more appropriately how few ingredients make up a roll, or even a simple piece of sashimi, should never be dipped in soy sauce.
-There is no such thing as spicy tuna. Americanized sushi restaurants have created and added this roll to their menus in order to please the American palate (see bullet one, above) and to pass off day old tuna as good and fresh. The beauty of sushi is to showcase all of the wonderful flavors and textures of raw fish. In order to achieve the perfect piece of sushi, it is pivotal to serve it at absolute freshness. Spicy tuna generally means day old tuna.
-Fresh fish is generally not delivered on Mondays. Making it the worst day to buy your spicy tuna.
-Sushi rice should actually be loose and unstructured. All that starchy rice you buy in prepared sushi packages is definitely not the real deal.
The list goes on but those are a few insights I know to be true. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking.. “Well that’s great Gourmie, but uh… you ordered the spicy tuna”. And trust me, I was thinking that too, just now and while ordering.
The thing is that we as Americans only know Americanized sushi (unless of course of other obvious circumstances that would make that not the case), and even the best of the best sushi restaurants offer this dish.
My point here is that the rules above are not meant to make you boycott anything that doesn’t follow these guidelines. Heck some of my favorite rolls have spicy tuna mixed with copious amounts of sauces, many are ordered specifically to be drench in extra wasabi-ed soy sauce (read: california rolls), and probably all have tightly packed rice.
It’s okay to order spicy tuna at a nice restaurant, but you may think twice before you order it at that hole in the wall, all-you-can-eat sushi place next to your best friends apartment in the least Asian neighborhood of your town.
Or go ahead and grab a pre-package sushi to-go at your local grocer, just know that you aren’t about to open the gates to the world of sushi delicacy, and that vegetarian or imitation crab stick may actually be the thing to choose in this situation.
The point here is honestly just to let you in on the aspects of the cuisine that are meant to be known, appreciated, and highlighted. To help you see that maybe next time you don’t have to dip your salmon sashimi in soy sauce like you dip your french fries in ketchup. That if a roll is falling apart due to loose rice, you’ve actually found yourself a little gem not a complete flop. That if it’s a Monday night and the specials are all made of over-sauced sushi “spicy” this or that, you know you aren’t really getting any sort of deal at all.
Do you like sushi? What’s your favorite maki or sashimi?
Have you ever had real unAmericanized Sushi?
What do you think about the sushi facts that I addressed above?
Are there any other cuisines that you know of where a loss of full authenticity has also happened?