Last night I was lucky enough to be invited last minute to dine at the famed Nobu Manila that opened over a year ago (Hello, December 2014). I know I’m late but I like to go with my own flow aka when no one’s talking about it anymore and it’s easier to get a reservation. Rewind back 15 years ago to 2001 when I stumbled upon a couple of Nobu cookbooks in our house. I didn’t really have that love of food that I do now but I knew I liked to eat and when pictures of food look beautiful, I’d like to think that the food would taste the same. But alas, the only Nobu restaurants I knew of were nowhere really near Manila and I was not dropping that kind of cash. Not when I was 12 years old. No way, man.
There’s a thing about clean design that gets me and Nobu definitely has that. It started quite empty on an early Saturday night which allowed me to appreciate the quiet ambiance. At least until a group sat close by near the end of our meal and progressively got louder the more they drank. Oh well, can’t have it all. Attention to detail was definitely in the designer’s mind when they were thinking of this place. There are a lot of things on the menu so we decided to go omakase (お任せ) and left it all to the chef. Our server told us that the omakase usually contains the specialties so I was eager to get my hands on that black cod in miso.
We started with a complimentary zensai (did I spell that right?) palate cleanser, compliments of the chef. I guess our meager tongues needed to be ready for deliciousness. Just kidding! We got a colorful veggie friendly te maki (手巻/hand roll) with cucumbers, carrots, a slice of avocado, wrapped in lettuce and nori (海苔/seaweed). This was all hiding a delicious sesame miso dressing that was not too creamy and bland at the same time. My only comment is that the avocado slice could’ve been bigger 😛
Then the omakase started. A cold dish of yellowtail tartare sitting in a miso wasabi soy dressing and topped with finely chopped green onions and caviar (CAVIAR!!) was served. The yellowtail (which I believe is hamachi and easily confused with yellowfin tuna) was so finely chopped and looked like a little cake. A delicious little cake that is. The dressing can be a bit overwhelming/spicy if you take too much so make sure not to. Unless you want to clear your sinuses. On the side there was a little green fruit to cleanse our palates yet again. Our server told us it was wakamomo (young green peach/若桃)and was delicious! We had to order a few more on the side because they were that good. In the words of my companions “好好吃!” (With emphasis)
Next up was the sushi platter with salmon, tuna, ebi, and crispy rice cube topped with spicy tuna. I personally thought the fish was very normal but the rice for me was the perfect sushi rice with a bit of zing from the rice vinegar. The crispy rice cube was interesting because I had never seen anything like that. The spicy tuna that topped it wasn’t too spicy so I forgot it was supposed to be.
A shy plate of tiraditos arrive and TBH almost didn’t see the white fish because the plate was white too! Four thin slices of white fish sashimi sat in some yuzu (柚子) lemon juice topped with some kind of salt, a cilantro leaf, and a drop of some Peruvian chili sauce. Some red chewy seaweed was on the side. The yuzu lemon juice was a bit overpowering at first but then evened out by the chili sauce and cilantro. Unless cilantro tastes like soap to you.
Then to be healthy we had the sashimi salad. The fish used is Philippine tuna (yay local!) and seared just right on a bed of mixed greens, a cherry tomato, and two thin slices of radish. I think the dressing was some sort of sesame soy base mixed with grated radish. Well, I can only say that I liked the fish more than the veggies but this was kinda ordinary for me considering that it’s a bestseller.
Closer to the end, some rock shrimp tempura on top of field greens tossed in a creamy chili dressing. The taste kinda reminded me of the Chinese American classic, honey walnut prawns but with a kick. I liked the bite sized pieces cause I looked very awkward trying to eat a whole shrimp tempura. For real.
Finally, the dish that I had been waiting for and what made the man himself famous, black cod in miso. Fish was perfectly cooked! Ayeeee so flaky and succulent. From what I know the black cod is marinated in some kinda of miso dressing but it wasn’t overpowering at all. No fermented miso smell here! I also liked the option of the little bit of extra dressing on the side. Lastly, a stem of pickled ginger to cleanse the palate once again. Black cod in miso was A+!
Then we got a bowl of miso soup which was that, a bowl of miso soup. No bells and whistles here.
We ended our meal with an individual serving of chocolate lava cake with a scoop of green tea ice cream. For some reason, I can smell the lava cake before they even lifted the cover. Not as much runny chocolate as I expected but still scrumptious and great with the green tea ice cream.
I realized belatedly that we weren’t served any meat! Wow! While Nobu is not a place I can afford to go to on a regular basis, it’s definitely in my bookmark for special occasions. (Someone please invite me again?) Glad to have finally dined at Nobu. It was 15 years in the making! Valet parking is also free for 3 hours with a validation! 😛
1/F Nobu Hotel Manila
Aseana Blvd cor. Macapagal Ave, Entertainment City
Parañaque, Metro Manila
+632 691 2882 or +632 800 8080
Monday to Thursday 0600H – 1000H; 1700H – 2200H
Friday 0600H – 1000H; 1800H – 2300H
Saturday to Sunday 0600H – 1100H; 1700H – 2300H