Review: World-Class Dining At Nobu Cape Town
Everyone with a love for the restaurant world will have heard of Nobu. It’s a world-famous restaurant with dozens of branches in the USA, Europe, and Asia, but only one lonely restaurant in our home continent. Luckily for me, that one lonely African branch is situated in the heart of the Mother City – at the One & Only at the V&A Waterfront.
I’ve had my eye on Nobu for a while. I mean, which foodie wouldn’t? World-class Japanese food and a world-class reputation would make any sane person go gaga. But it wasn’t until last Saturday that I finally – finally – had the absolute honour of dining with Nobu Cape Town at the One & Only.
As my foodie world is continuously expanding, familiar faces crop up everywhere, and I was superbly excited to be greeted by the beautiful Anastacia Julie as Nobu’s hostess. There really is nothing like a warm welcome to a world-class spot, and she led me down the stairs into the heart of Nobu world, ready for an evening full of wonder and excitement.
The Nobu Menu
To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. Many foodies like to do their research on a restaurant, study the menu, and know what will be expecting them upon arrival. I like the surprise of not knowing. Each restaurant I visit is an adventure, and I approach each place like an absolute newbie, ready to be wowed (or disappointed as sometimes tends to happen).
So when I first studied the menu at Nobu, I was a little perplexed. It’s filled with Japanese terminology that I didn’t fully understand (though I wasn’t completely useless) and a menu structure entirely different than any I had seen before. There are no standard ‘Western’ starters, mains, and desserts on this menu. Instead, you’ll be greeted by headings such as Nobu Special Cold Dish, Dry Miso, Omakese, Toban Yaki, and Nobu Special Hot Dishes.
Dining at Nobu can be done in different ways. If you wish, each guest at your table can order an individual dish. Alternatively, you could order a selection of dishes that are placed in the middle of the table and shared. This, we were informed, is how the evening is supposed to proceed. Then, there are also a variety of set or tasting menu options available, giving you the chance to try a few recommended dishes. We went for the latter option.
Our Nobu Dining Experience
To start with, Siba, or wonderful waitress, presented us with a portion of California Rolls with lobster and avocado. Yes, Nobu commits to SASSI standards and does not serve the endangered West Coast lobster, so I could enjoy this gorgeous sushi completely guilt-free.
Served with the California Rolls was a portion of the Salmon New Style Sashimi and the Baby Spinach and Shrimp Salad. The new-style sashimi is cut much thinner than traditional sashimi (think Carpaccio), and served with a wonderful citrusy sauce. The Baby Spinach Salad also combines a great array of flavours, and this was definitely one of the winners of the evening!
We followed these ‘starter portions’ with a portion of Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna. What is crispy rice you may ask? That was our question too, and the fried cubes of rice on a stick we were presented with pleasantly surprised us. The novelty of this dish alone makes it worth it! You take a rice cube on a stick, dip it in the butter soy sauce, and then shovel spicy tuna tartar on top.
The dish following this was probably the highlight of the evening: The Nobu signature Black Cod. The Black Cod is a bottom-feeder, fished out of depths of 1000m near Alaska. The fish is considered a delicacy in many countries. This alone would explain it’s hefty price (more about the prices later). Marinated for three days and then grilled to a caramalised exterior, the Nobu Black Cod is soft, buttery, and divinely delicious.
You’d think that nothing could top that dish, but, alas, we were just as impressed by the dish that followed: The Beef Fillet Toban Yaki. This is a steaming dish of beef fillet with exotic mushrooms, enjoyed plain or with a side order of rice. As our tummies were reaching their saturation point, we stuck to the plain dish – and it was absolutely delicious!
Siba wanted to present us with one more dish – the Pork Belly – but we had to politely decline. Even a food lover like me has a ‘too much’ point, and sadly, sadly, sadly, this was it for me. I would have loved to continue dining and enjoy all the dishes. But I guess this just means I’ll have to be back.
Cocktails and Sake
After the Beef Fillet Toban Yaki, we took a little digestive break. I enjoyed a Virgin Cocktail (the creamy Nobu 5.0), which was deliciously refreshing. Sabine went for a taste of the Hokusetsu Cho Daiginjyo JK 35 sake, which came highly recommended by Siba. I took a sip as well and this is probably the most delicious sake I have ever tasted. Completely smooth and refreshing!
We couldn’t quite skip dessert – particularly not after the table next to us was presented with a particular dessert dish served on a giant leaf! But it took us a while to select what we wanted. All of the options sounded delicious! To ease our trouble, the manager Carl offered us some passion fruit sake first. Again, I only had a sip (designated driver and all), but this was divine! Absolutely lovely!!!!
For dessert, finally, Sabine went for the leaf option we’d ogled previously – a Seasonal Fruit Crumble. I went for a Japanese traditional Homemade Mochi Trio. The Fruit Crumble was hot baked crumble stuffed with delicious berries. The Mochi was an interesting dish for sure, with three balls of ice cream wrapped in a chewy rice dough. I was perplexed by the rice dough. I couldn’t quite decide whether I liked it or not, but Sabine was an instant fan.
An Evening Well-Spent
By the time we walked out of Nobu Cape Town, we were thoroughly satiated – in a happy way. It was a truly phenomenal evening, with the best possible service, welcome snippets of information offered by both Carl and the head chef, Harold, who stopped by our table a couple of time, and exquisite food.
Information & Prices
I mentioned earlier that I’d leave a note about the prices. Nobu Cape Town is not cheap. Indeed, Siba informed us that 80% of the guests are tourists. The locals that visit use the spot to celebrate special occasions. In terms of international standards, Nobu Cape Town is competitively priced. The way you select your menu will determine whether you’ll have an average-priced or expensive Nobu experience. There are so many options available that it is relatively easy to build your dining experience according to your pocket.
P.S. If you’re looking for something else that will blow your mind at the One & Only, check out the review I wrote on the One & Only Spa here. This is the body and soul equivalent of a night a Nobu.
We’ll be back soon with more foodie news.
Article Date: August 2017