Over the years, Nobu has grown exponentially. What was initially a small Japanese restaurant in the United States (the inimitable Matsuhisa) started by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa has become over 40 high-end restaurants scattered across the globe, in places as far-ranging as Miami, Manila, Dubai, Beijing, Moscow, Cape Town and our very own Kuala Lumpur.
What has given Nobu a gilt edge over other restaurants of its calibre is the celebrity fairy dust that has shaped its success – Nobu’s major partner is Academy Award winning actor Robert De Niro, and the high-end chain counts customers like the Kardashians, Madonna, Cindy Crawford and Tom Cruise as regulars.
Nobu Matsuhisa recently released the cookbook, World of Nobu, a mammoth tome – rumoured to be his last cookbook – that recounts his personal journey and the signature dishes that made him famous (like black cod miso and new style sashimi).
What makes this cookbook a lot richer (and significantly heavier) is the recipes contributed by over 70 Nobu chefs from all over the world, including KL’s own chef Philip Leong.
To celebrate the launch of the book, Nobu KL has launched a seven-course ‘World of Nobu’ omakase experience (priced at RM600++) for the whole of March, featuring signature dishes from selected Nobu chefs across the globe.
Highlights from the menu include the kin medai bagna cauda with wasabi aioli soy cream, created by chef Toshiyuki Shiramizu from Nobu Malibu. This is a light offering of petal-soft red fish, complemented by pops of richness and a slightly potent kick from the wasabi aioli soy cream.
Then there is the sushi cup selection from Nobu KL’s newly-minted sushi chef Chico Datar. For this course, diners are presented with four different types of sushi presented in receptacles that resemble traditional Japanese tea cups.
Each sushi offers a different flavour experience – the premium tuna belly presents mouthfuls of velvety opulence offset by a citrus-kissed yuzu miso sauce, while the ikura globes offer bursts of umami, which explode in the mouth upon contact.
Then there is the prawn and wasabi salsa combo, which showcases prawns that are plump and supple with an almost collagen-like mouthfeel, juxtaposed against a dexterously well-balanced salsa that has undulating potent notes.
Perhaps the only letdown in this sushi platter is the white fish with crispy shiitake mushrooms. Having sampled the other sushis, this one pales by comparison, lacking that distinct je ne sais quoi that makes the rest of its brethren so memorable.
The aquatic adventure continues with the lobster and kale quinoa salsa, courtesy of chef Andrew Bozoki of Nobu Doha. Here, the kale is a hair’s breath away from being crispy, which was probably planned as the texture is just right – crunchy but not shard-like, while the thin slivers of fried bean curd skin add texture and dimension.
The lobster complements all of this beautifully with silken, perfectly cooked flesh that is fat and fluffy to the touch. It’s a light, understated meal where all the components come together in melodious harmony.
From chef Taku Sato of Nobu Fifty Seven comes the Hokkaido scallop with pickled fennel and beet sauce. This is a meal that is almost too-pretty-to-eat, with the beetroot sauce forming a flaming red river upon which the scallops rest gently upon. The stars of this meal are the scallops – each one perfectly seared, so the outer bits have a slight crust while the insides offer satin softness. The pickled fennel adds a vinegary touch to the meal while the beetroot sauce delivers an earthy, almost mineral underbelly to the meal.
The highlight of the omakase meal is definitely Nobu Marbella’s chef Eleni Manousou’s meal of wagyu beef with con hierbas. The wagyu here is exquisite – so tender and buttery, it literally melts upon contact with the mouth. Rest assured, your senses will submit so willingly to the pleasure this meal provides that total silence will prevail for as long as it takes you to finish this dish.
The menu also includes chef Philip Leong of Nobu KL’s cold inaniwa chuka with caviar and watercress soup, (a noodle dish) and chef Kei Hasegawa of Matsuhisa Bevery Hills’ dessert of sakura-saku. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to try either, but given the reputation of both chefs, it’s safe to say a promising ending awaits.
Menara 3 Petronas
Level 56, KLCC
50088 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2164 5084
Open Mon-Fri, 12nn-2pm, 6pm-10.30pm; Sat & Sun, 1pm-4pm, 6pm-10.30pm