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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Dinner @ Nobu

To celebrate Al's birthday we're off to visit Nobu.

Things didn't start off too well during booking when Al was informed he could only book at 6.30pm (and be out by 8.30) or 8.30pm - no other times were allowed. So not to be rushed out the door, the booking was made was 8.30pm.

When we arrived at the allotted time, the hostess manning the door informed us that our table wasn't ready so we'd have to wait upstairs at the bar. So much for the strict booking times. As an aside, I don't know what the hostess was thinking wearing white shoes with black stockings, eeck!

upstairs

The situation didn't improve as we were basically left to our own devices - no menus offered. It wasn't until White shoes returned a good 15 minutes later to let us know the table still wasn't ready that we finally were offered a wine list.

Champagne was ordered, warm glasses arrived but no bottle. It was a good 30 minutes after our booking that we finally got to sit at our table, sans champagne. No unison chant of "irasshaimase" greeted our arrival. Our perky waitress knew nothing about our champagne order but eventually the bottle arrived - warm glasses used down here as well!

After scanning the pages and pages of menu offerings we all settled on having the 8 course degustation (the Omakase Menu).

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It began with this chilled offering of yuzu infused lobster on shiso leaf with salmon roe. Perhaps a little too much yuzu was used but it was a nice refreshing way to start the evening.

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Next up was a threesome of fish - the centre offering we were told was a "Nobu signature dish" - yellowtail with jalapeño.

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More fish - torched tuna slices served with an excellent onion and citrus sauce

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The signature Black Cod with Miso served with hajikami, sweet pickled ginger root. No complaints about this dish, it truly deserves to be a classic.

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Sizzling hot, it's presented with a flourish as the domes come off the incredibly hot dishes. It is seared beef fillet straight from the wood-fired oven.

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This bowl of Clam Miso comes out with the plate of nigiri - The clams are quite tough so I don't think they are supposed to be eaten (at least I hope they aren't!)

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A good plate of nigiri, though having just come back from Japan, it really does fade in comparison.

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Dessert is the Chocolate Bento Box - a dense round of warm flourless chocolate cake served with green tea ice cream.

While there wasn't anything particularly wrong with any of the dishes they also weren't very inspirational, perhaps a bit too much repetition of ingredients, especially yuzu. On the service side, Elle thought it a bit too "pancake parlour". While it is a nice space all those bare surfaces mean the noise just ricochets to a loud roar making conversation difficult - you certainly wouldn't go here for a quiet dinner for two. The noise also made it very hard to hear the waiters when they described the dishes we were having. The banquettes while comfortable make service very difficult with the poor waiting staff having to lean over people to top up glasses and pick up/deliver plates.

Having now dined here, Paalo understand where AA Gill was coming from, the food is a bit twee, a bit dated. We all agreed that we probably wouldn't return but that shouldn't matter to Nobu as they seem to be doing a roaring trade.

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It's a restaurant in a casino and part of a chain of restaurants, and that sums up its place in the gastronomic world.

The details:
Nobu Melbourne
Crown Casino
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank

Hours:
Sunday - Thursday (Dinner) 6:00 - 10:45
Friday - Saturday (Dinner) 6:00 - 11:15
Sunday - Thursday (Bar) 5:00 - 1:00
Friday - Saturday (Bar) 5:00 - 2:00
Bar Menu daily from 5:30


Tel. +613 9696 6566

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