When Nobu 57 opened it seemed from some reviews that the Nobu backlash was on. Adam Platt from New York Magazine called it “formulaic” and I thought maybe the dream was over. Now granted, it was a review of the new restaurant Nobu 57, (not the original Tribeca restaurant which we just ate at). But I couldn’t help but think, that after all these years, maybe people were getting tired of the same old Nobu dishes, and that even worse, because of the new restaurants, the quality at the original might start to suffer. I can still remember the birthday meal I had years ago at Next Door Nobu. Each dish better then the next… At the time I hadn’t been to too many “fancy” restaurants, but even a novice to expensive cuisine, I could tell this place was in anothe league.
It was with this memory, and open to the possibility of being disappointed we returned to Nobu, not sure what to expect. Now, while many people would call Nobu a Sushi Restaurant, it is anything but. If you are looking for sushi, there are tons of amazing restaurants in Manhattan that serve the freshest, most delicious sushi you’ve ever had… but Nobu is not one of those places. The genius is in their appetizers and hot foods. While many people have written this over and over again, you still see people telling their friends or posting reviews on chowhound- “Nobu is overrated”, “the sushi is so much better at _____________”. If you want to enjoy Nobu in the same way that people who rave about it do, you have to stick with the signature dishes.
What we ate, and the +/- after jump….
Expensive. Yes (though for Toro not really). Delicious. Yes. If you feel the need for some raw fish you would do good to order any of the tartare’s or ceviches. They are very popular, along with the New Style Sashimi. Remember, while these dishes are a nice way to begin the meal- the best is yet to come. For those of you who haven’t had Toro it is Fatty Tuna, and comes in 3 different grades. It is a spectacular cut of fish, which is best enjoyed as sashimi served plain. If you have never had it, this might not be the best introduction (although you will still enjoy it)- if you have had it many times, this is a great way of enjoying it in a different way.
This is actually one of my favorite dishes of Nobu’s. I had it for the first time at his Los Angeles scaled down outpost “Matsuhisa” and it is delicious. You won’t see this raved about very often, but I am big fan of the cheeks, a sort of stringy on the inside, slightly crispy on outside version with a great mustard’y tasting sauce. Don’t let the “cheek” part of it scare you… if you like fish, and you like the mustardy side of wasabi’s flavor- you should like this dish.
A must order. You will seldom see a review of a Nobu restaurant without a mention of this classic Nobu stable. It’s as delicious as it sounds. Occasionally I’ve heard of people getting an order that was not expertly prepared… but don’t let it discourage you- it’s usually right on.
I’ve been starting to see this one pop up more and more on people’s favorite dishes list. It’s not actually pasta, but squid that is so expertly cooked that it’s tenderness makes you feel like you might be eating some sort of pasta dish. If you don’t like garlic, the name should be enough to keep you from ordering this dish. If you’re not normally a fan of squid (usually tough and sometime fishy at bad restaurants) this might be the dish that changes your mind.
THE DISH. You cannot go and not order this Nobu Signature Dish. He created it. He made it popular. All others are just imitators. No matter how many times you’ve had it, it’s imposible not to order it again and again. Sweet. Perfectly cooked. Sublime.
I admit it. I like sushi rolls. It doesn’t matter what’s in them. Fried stuff, raw stuff, roasted stuff with sauce all over it. It doesn’t matter… I like the sashimi too- but I love a good roll. We decided to try one at the end of the meal, and it was good.
One final note about our meal. We were seated in the front room just to the right of where you enter the restaurant. We felt isolated, and boxed in from the excitement of the rest of the restaurant. Even the back room by the bathrooms was more alive and vibrant. It definetely effected our meal in a negative way. Our enjoyment of the meal was a testament to how great the food really is. If you are seated in that front room, I would recommend asking if there is another table open.
FINAL WORD: NOBU has still got it. I wasn’t sure what to expect returning to this restaurant that has been praised for so long, by so many. Just make sure you stick to the signature dishes, and whatever you do, don’t call it a sushi place. Everybody has a different opinion about what place in NYC is the best Japanese or best Sushi. When deciding where to go, you need to figure out what it is you like out of a Japanese Restaurant, and if someone gives you there opinion of “the best” find out exactly what it is they are talking about. If it’s going to a small un-assuming place that has the most amazing fish flown in from Japan two times a week, and the sushi chef hands it to you over the sushi bar- then maybe you want to go to a place like Sushi of Gari or Sushi Seki. If you are looking for interesting hot japanese dishes, in a flashy environment with decent raw fish tossed in for good measure, then Nobu is definetely for you.
- If the popular signature dishes sound appealing to you, you will like this place. Stick to what has made it so popular year after year
- If you are looking for out of this world sushi, there are much better places. People don’t rave about Nobu because of the sushi
- Official Website
- Adam Platt’s Nobu 57 Review [New York Magazine]
- NOBU vs Sushi Yasuda vs. Nobu 57 vs. Jewel Bako [Chowhound]
- Sushi NYC
5 9th Ave (Btw Gansevoort & Little W 12th St), 212-929-9460 [map]
Date of Meal: February 18, 2006