As I write this post I’m currently sat in the most luxuriously hot bath on the wettest, windiest and most miserable Summer’s day in London. Summer, for me, should be full of sunshine. It should wake me up every morning with a song in my heart, and send me to bed every evening with a smile on my face.
Summer in London does not do that. It wakes me up with the cruel, grey, rainy light of day, and it sends me to bed dark, cold and miserable. At least this summer it has.
Having said that, Brother’s birthday is in the summer and we usually celebrate it in Spain, but this year, with all of us working hard, we found ourselves stranded in London, and so, to escape the lack-of-summer-blues, Momma Lee and I took him to Nobu Berekely St. for a very special celebration dinner and to relax… if only it had lived up to the hype, it may have actually worked.
Nobu has a lot of hype. I have friends who claim the best meal they’ve ever eaten has been at Nobu. I also have friends who have been lusting after Nobu’s fare for a long time, waiting for a special occasion to eat there. Celebrities flock there in the droves, constantly papped coming either out of or into the premises.
But, for all its hype, are Nobu resting on their laurels? They were, after all, basically the first Asian-fusion restaurant. Heck, they probably invented the term. Chef Nobu certainly invented the miso black cod dish (which, incidentally, costs £32 for a piece of fish half the size of my clenched fist…) that now features on most pan-Asian restaurant menus. Sadly, I think the answer is yes… or maybe I’m just being a food snob. All I know is that whilst it was decent, other venues have surpassed Nobu by a long milestone, which makes me wonder why it consistently makes the Top 10 list for restaurants in London…? Maybe just because it is Nobu… but I don’t think that’s a good enough reason.
There are no categories on the menu. And the menu is huge. I think that’s part of the problem. Momma Lee, Brother and I were so confused about the dishes and portion sizes we had to ask a passing waitress just what the heck we were supposed to do. Even that wasn’t very helpful. Are they small? Big? How many suggested dishes? Don’t get me wrong, I come from an Asian background, we’re all about the sharing (where do you think I get my Feeder attitude from?), but when each dish costs upwards of £15 and you receive five tiny pieces of pork, sprinkled with a little garnish and a splosh of sauce so stingy you may as well have thrown it at the wall and let the bits that ran down off the counter drip onto the plate, I don’t really feel like I’m quite getting my money’s worth.
Anyway, enough moaning. Here’s what we had: after a quick cocktail and glass of champagne downstairs (in a very dark room, otherwise I would’ve taken a snap), we headed upstairs where we started with a bowl of edamame, Brother then had a spicy tuna hand roll, followed by the above photo – crispy pork belly with spicy miso. The edamame was average. The pork… well. See aforementioned tiny bits of pork. The top was very crispy, though.
Up next was king crab with creamy jalapeno sauce. Momma Lee and Brother liked it – I was less of a fan, although it was interesting. It felt rather hobbled together and I wasn’t convinced by the flavours. Sorry, no photo because Momma Lee and Brother were too eager to get stuck in.
Up next duck breast with wasabi salsa. Now this was a nice dish. The duck was cooked very nicely, the wasabi salsa gave it a really interesting kick. My only criticism was that I would’ve preferred my duck with a slightly crispier skin, a little more fat and flavour. Maybe that’s just me being a greedy num-num, but duck is a fatty meat and that’s part of the pleasure of it. This felt far too… healthy.
Next, the black cod den miso, Nobu’s signature dish. Okay, in the past few months I’ve eaten a lot of miso black cod. I like it – it’s very tasty. But considering how Nobu created it I expected it to be mind-blowing. Sorry Nobu but Asia de Cuba has you pipped at the post for this one. Sure, it was good, but Asia de Cuba’s was amazing. No photo for a couple of reasons, number one I couldn’t be bothered, and number two I already had the far superior photo of Asia de Cuba’s.
Finally we had the rib eye anti-cucho, which was genuinely very good. Probably the best dish of our entire meal. It was served with enocchi mushrooms, grilled courgette and tomato, and the anti-cucho sauce, a Peruvian-Japanese fusion sauce. The rib-eye was cooked beautifully, and was juicy and flavourful. And the portion size was finally decent for three to share. Again, no photo, because by this time I’d forgotten, I was too hungry.
My dessert was the oatmeal crunch with yuzu cream, which was served with dulce de leche ice-cream. I loved the crunchy oatmeal, but was less keen on the yuzu cream. It just wasn’t doing very much for me. The presentation, however, was beautiful.
Brother’s dessert was the far more beautiful Hazel 8, which consisted of gianduja mousse with a passionfruit core, served with roasted hazelnut ice-cream and moromiso toffee. Now this was beautiful, but probably a little too hazelnut-y for me. But when Brother cut into the mousse the inside was stuffed with passionfruit, which was simply gorgeous. The passionfruit was a lovely addition.
Finally Momma Lee’s dessert was the Suntory whiskey cappucino which came as, surprise surprise, an actual cappucino. Somewhat less impressive than the other two desserts. It was, however, pretty tasty, with a milk ice-cream and coffee brulee lying beneath the whiskey foam exterior.
All in all an interesting experience, but only for the bragging rights. And the prices were extortionate, which is the main reason I was so outraged by the food. For three of us it cost us about £95 per head, and that was for five small dishes, three desserts, a cocktail and a glass of champagne. Am I being demanding? I don’t think so. Am I being spoilt? Maybe, but I think in London when there is so much good food at your fingertips you’re allowed to be. I’m allowed to be. Sorry Nobu, but I shan’t be visiting your premises again. At least not unless you scrap your whole menu, go back to the drawing board and start again. Like all good food you were best when you were fresh. Or so I hear.
15 Berkeley Street
London W1J 8DY
Tel: 0207 290 9222
Other locations also available, er, all over.
So now I’m going to watch a movie, continue to soak in my hot bath and forget that the weather outside is frightful (because my bath is so delightful). Until next time, peace and love.