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REVIEW: Nobu Dubai

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As the bona fide queen of pop Madonna once said, “You can tell how much fun a city is going to be if Nobu has a restaurant in it.” And who’s to argue with that? The brainchild of celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa and funded by none other than Hollywood legend Robert “You talkin’ to me?” DeNiro, Nobu throws everything you think you know about Japanese cuisine out the window. And that’s principally because, well, it’s not really Japanese at all.

Nobu seamlessly blends Japan’s famous flavours and textures with the strong traditions of everyone’s new favourite culinary destination, Peru, creating an entirely new cuisine. In fact it works so well that in the last 18 months or so Peruvian food swept the world as the “on trend” cuisine of the year. Nobu must accept many of the plaudits.

“Irashaimase!” shouts the waiter, as we are taken into the restaurant. It’s a traditional Japanese welcome that is reverberated by the entire serving staff as we are led to our seats.

Nobu’s genius lies in redefining the traditional and this is echoed in its design: a warm, contemporary space with low lights and dark wood seamlessly blending the old with the new. Incorporating a stylish sushi bar into the mix, as well as a chic dark wood sake lounge and bar, there’s no doubt that Nobu is here for the long haul.

Now there is a set-price menu at Nobu, which is designed for first timers, or people who don’t know their sashimi from their unagi, but we decided to jump in at the deep end and go it alone.

Our choice comprised spicy tuna, wagyu beef sliders, lobster ceviche, king crab tacos, salmon skin salad, black cod with yuzu miso, seabass with dasho ponzu and – a staple of modern Asian restaurants in Dubai, it seems – truffle rice on the side. We finished the meal off with a chocolate bento for dessert, served with a surprisingly delicious green tea ice cream, as well as Nobu’s signature baked cheesecake, served with a homemade yuzu (Asian orange) sorbet.

So does Nobu live up to the hype? Yes and no. The dishes that were good were outstanding: the black cod with miso was one of the best fish dishes we’ve ever eaten and the spicy tuna had us begging for more. But there was a touch of hit and miss about other parts of the menu. The dessert selection lacked the imagination and excitement of the mains, which was perhaps a touch anti-climactic.

Whether or not Nobu can really be considered the absolute best food in Dubai is debatable, but it is undeniable that it is a must-visit, providing a fantastic all-round dining experience, especially for all Japanese foodies.

A word of advice: be sure to book as far ahead as you can. Nobu is definitely one of Dubai’s most exclusive restaurants and unless you have Kardashian as a surname, reservations can be very hard to come by, especially on a Thursday night.

Where: Atlantis The Palm
Contact: +9714 426 2626, www.atlantisthepalm.com

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