Does Nobu Singapore Live Up to the Hype?
At Nobu, an impeccably poached miso cod arrives at your table topped with a tawny, whisper-thin stick of preserved ginger root and a single golden apricot—artfully, yet casually positioned on a circular dish. This miso-marinated black cod, which stems from a traditional Japanese preparation called ‘kasuzuke’, has become synonymous with the fine dining mecca. While celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa by no means created this dish, one can say that he perhaps, perfected it.
Since the opening of Nobu’s first location in Tribeca, New York City in 1994, the successful fine dining chain restaurant has since expanded to more than fifty outlets across five continents. Along with it comes a fervent following of A-listers, influencers and tastemakers who like being seen there.
The interiors at Nobu Singapore are chic, while still integrating classic elements of Japanese architecture. A sleek wooden interior, high botanical ceilings, a quaint outdoor Japanese garden and a veritable selection of sake form the makeup of this uber-modish contemporary Asian restaurant.
To start, chef Matsuhisa exalts the humble taco with his rendition of a salmon version that is simple but elegant. Tucked in a crisp hard shell, the fatty texture and flavour from the raw salmon shine together.
For a decently spicy kick, consider the yellowtail jalapeno. The fish melts on your tongue, while the grassy, slightly bitter aroma of jalapeños leaves a gentle tingle in the mouth. With each bite, the pepper’s natural floral and fruity flavours are unleashed. Another contender is the new style salmon sashimi with yuzu soy sauce, seared with olive oil and sesame oil. It is refreshingly light and has a pleasant zing.
The California maki is a mainstay too. You get a textural crunch from the rice which has a slight vinegary tang mixed with firm slices of salmon, creamy avocado, a dab of wasabi and a brush of soy sauce.
Mains-wise, rock prawn tempura does its intended job. The batter is light and crackles under your teeth, while the creamy spicy sauce adds a depth of flavour to the dish. As expected, the miso black cod lives up to its hype. After all, the fish is marinated for three days in a mixture of miso, sake, and mirin rendering a sweet and savoury combination. The caramelised exterior is done right, and just when you need a bit of respite, a single preserved ginger root helps to offset the oiliness of the fish. The ultra-fatty Japanese A5 wagyu beef, richly marbled with fat, is no slouch either with a juicy pink centre that extends to the edge.
Desserts are delicate and dainty. Bento Box is like a treasure chest waiting to be opened. Inside, an elegant Valrhona dark chocolate fondant and a scoop of green tea ice cream await. It is decadent enough without feeling too ridiculously sweet. There is no point resisting the melon shiso kakigori, a too-pretty-to-eat sculptural treat, comprising a meticulous layering of melon shaved rice, mochi, fresh melon balls, coconut sorbet, topped with a drizzle of shiso syrup. What really ties everything together is the syrup, which imparts a citrusy flavour somewhat reminiscent of basil and tarragon.
There is a reason why Nobu is a tour de force of modern Japanese cuisine—and it shows in the food, service and ambience. Reservations may be tough to score, but there’s always Nobu: The Cookbook which allows you to replicate some of the chef’s most famous recipes.