Monday, August 18, 2008

Must Eat at Nobu

It should be on The List of things you need to do at least once in this life: You must eat at Nobu. The famous restaurant name is often heard in sushi circles—“Oh, Nobu makes a better version of that…” “Nobu has the freshest fish…” “The best presentation is at Nobu…” “Nobu should be called ‘No Food’.”

The statements are all true, the latter perhaps for the trendy restaurant’s propensity to serve diminutive portions of their tasty creations. But is that because they’re snooty? Yes, but with good reason. Here, the lofty prices are not justified by the portions, but by the high-end quality and art form of their servings.

Nobu is also famous for being frequented by the famous (I am not yet a tabloid journalist, so I will not go into the names of celebrities who have been seen dining there, but you get the idea) and by the well-heeled wannabes who followed suit, making it the seen-and-be-seen sushi spot that it is today. Its Malibu location certainly didn’t hurt, nor do the other big-city links of this restaurant chain: London, New York, and the latest addition in West L.A. on La Cienega Boulevard.

Behind it all is the one and only chef Nobu Matsuhisa, master chef and restauranteur who not only has written four cookbooks and runs the ultra-posh Matushisa sushi restaurant on La Cienega, but has trained proteges like Miki Izumisawa, who opened 242 CafĂ© Sushi Fusion in Laguna Beach. A giant portrait of him, smiling, hangs from the wall next to the sushi bar—and why wouldn’t he be smiling? The man’s exuberant creations certainly reflect his love of modern, inventive Japanese cuisine.

Some might argue that his fusion style caters too much to American taste buds—take the Spicy Creamy Crab, for example, a casserole-looking dish that is nothing more than a hodgepodge of dungeness crab chunks slathered in a super-salty mayonnaise-and-smelt-eggs sauce and then baked on a clay plate. But the taste is utterly crabulous, unexpected considering the melted-cheese appearance. Its only downside—it’s extremely oily and fills you up quickly in the bad way, with lots of the fluffy pure fat known as mayo, so for $19 you can acquire the “stomach swimming in grease” sensation. Well worth the experience nevertheless….

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