This restaurant focuses on quality. Plain and simple. Their ingredients are of very high quality and their recipes are simple, yet have a flair of creativity.
The debate on whether the cost is worth the quality is debatable in my opinion.
So here’s my review on Nobuo. I wish I could get more dishes but unfortunately, I am not made of money.
The waitress said that the chef pretty much does anything and presents it to the customers. A square dish is presented to your party with each of the four corners dolloped with a contrasting set of vegetables and in the middle, a salad. I chose this dish because I love surprises and I like it when a chef has free reign on what to do and it shows the true essence of the restaurant. This was about $14.00
On the north side was a bisected snow peas with peanut sauce and bonito flakes. I thought the savoriness of the bonito flakes enhanced the peanut sauce very well and the snop peas were blanched to perfection.
The east has a grilled blanched Brussel sprout with a pungent wasabi honey sauce. I love it when restaurants cooked Brussel sprouts just right and they definitely got it down to a science. The sauce was a spicy wasabi which took me by surprise.
The south, an unpronounceable Asian vegetable that was dried in the oven. It literally tastes like kale chips. The color is very bright for a dried vegetable so it makes me believe that they actually probably fried it without any coating. The fast yet high heat really brings out the color of the vegetable and enhances the flavor. Like a kale chip, the leafy crisp dissolves in your mouth.
The west was lined with yellow and red cherry tomatoes with a mirin based sweet sauce. Sprinkled were bits of tomato. It was a nice, summary yet refreshing dish, but wasn’t my favorite.
And the center was a watermelon radish salad with a sour vinaigrette. Though it seemed pretty cool, I found the essence of the vegetable missing (maybe the vegetable actually has no flavor) and was met with pretty much a wet sponge of vinegrette.
Oyster with Sea Urchin
For about $16.00, you get two shelled sea urchins and oysters on a spoon. The two contrasting sea foods are then drizzled with a spicy wasabi oil. I shot these down which I kind of regret because the wasabi hit me in the face. I’m not a huge connosouer when it comes to sea urchins because I feel like they taste like salty sea water bags. The raw oyster reminds me of the oens I had in New Orelans, it had that aoiunt of freshness.
Soft Shell Crab Salad
The waitress said that this dish is the most popular. At $20.00 a plate, this is a big dish in Nobuo’s standard. You get a pretty big plate with a quartered deep fried soft shelled crab. Below the crab is some spongy rice noodles and a lot of cucumber and onions. The sauce is particularily sour and tastes like mirin. The peanuts are garnished around the plate giving it a nice crunch if you can get it on your chopsticks. The blue crab was excellent but I found the salad to be average. The dressing, which covered the bottom of the plate (for decoration) was too acidic for me and I was sad I couldn’t get any peanuts in my bites.
Nobuo’s a small, cramped restaurant just like many of the Heritage Square restaurants but I feel that’s what give sit its charm. Overall, the atmosphere does not fit the quality of the food. Maybe it’s too much time at the Rose and Crowns, but I felt like I was eating at a British pub. It didn’t help that we were sitting in front of the entrance.
If you have big party, Nobuo actually has a huge and well decorated party room. The ambiance of the room is a calm, aqua blue with Japanese decor such as a portrait of a geisha. If you ever had to impress a business with business men who like food and a little bit of culture, this is the perfect room to pelase your cilents. With the price of food, that will also please them as well.
Service was excellent and the waitresses pride themselves of knowing their stuff. I appreciated the fact that the waitresses took time to present the dishes so detailed. We got our water regularly and our checks fast. No complaints here.
About $60.00 will give you a complete meal. Depending on if you eat cheap or expensive, add or subtract $20 dollars. The waitress suggested having us try 3 more dishes because the average number of dishes for 2 people is 6 dishes. As much as I’d like to pay that much, I don’t.
If you have the money and are a complete food snob, then go for buying as much as you want. However, with my budget, I could only afford 3 dishes for my date and I.
Like all simple Japanese inspired restaurants, Nobuo’s menu is very simple and their items involves a name and the ingredients used in the bottom. The drinks list is longer than the menu, which is about two pages long and lists cocktails, beers, and wine.
A hint: The filling dishes are the crab salad and the banana leaf pork.
Whether or not you’re a foodie, try it yourself. I feel it’s nice to binge out on high quality food. Honestly though, I love the cheap stuff. If you’re either a huge foodie tourist, getting a business dinner, or have deep wallets and want to impress your trophy girlfriend, Nobuo would be the place to go. If you want a filling meal, might hit that pizza restaurant across the street, or that British pub.