Riverside at Crown Melbourne
8 Whiteman Street, Southbank VIC
(03) 9292 7879
Price: Many items on the menu ranging from $6 for edamame to $80 for toro, Omakase 5 course $80, 8 course $110
Parking: Crown Casino carpark
The other week it was our one year wedding anniversary and instead of going away somewhere as we usually do for our (dating) anniversaries, we decided to have a nice meal (or 2 or 3!) instead. Since our last Japanese meal was a bit of a letdown and we were impressed by Nobu’s black cod miso at the recent Taste of Melbourne Festival, we made a dinner booking at Nobu.
After making the booking, I Googled Nobu and found more bad reviews than good and started thinking perhaps I had made the wrong choice! I think the main complaint of those who wrote bad reviews was the fact that it was too expensive and they finished the meal still hungry. People had suggested keeping track of the dishes you ordered to make sure you didn’t end up with a slap in the face when it came to paying for the bill!
We requested a seat at the sushi counter, which is perfect for groups of two or three people. There is a lot more light and you get to speak to the sushi chefs while they are plating up. The other tables in the main dining area are so darkly lit, I think I would have trouble knowing if it was actually hubby sitting opposite me!
We had one waitress allocated to us for the night and she was fantastic. She was very attentive and helpful with our menu choices, offering suggestions without being too pushy. Since it was our first time to Nobu, she suggested we go for the Omakase, which is the chef’s choice of dishes. I like to know what I am eating and have a choice, so we ended up making up our own “omakase” with a number of dishes to share.
The menu was very extensive; it was extremely difficult to make a choice! The menu was broken down into different categories and there are so many small dishes under those categories. I can see how easy it is to keep ordering, not realising how much you are spending. At the start the waitress took our order for the first couple of dishes and left the menu at our table. She then came back at various intervals so we could order more dishes from her.
We started off with a complimentary serving of edamame beans. These are green soybeans still in the pod, boiled then sprinkled with sea salt. You are supposed to bite open the pod and eat the beans, leaving behind the pod.
Our first dish was the sashimi tacos. The shell was like a puffed up crunchy rice cracker, each one filled with a different filling – raw yellowtail, raw salmon, cooked lobster and cooked crab topped with finely chopped red onion. It was served with a slighty sour, chilli tomato salsa. These were fantastic, though hard to eat and split in two! I normally stay away from raw whitefish, preferring salmon, but the yellowtail was so fresh and not grainy at all.
Our second dish was the beef tataki, thinly sliced seared beef pieces served with a ponzu sauce and topped with crispy garlic chips and spring onion. The beef was very tender and devoid of the beefy taste and smell you often get from raw beef. The sauce was a touch overpowering due to its tang, but complemented the beef nicely. On the menu there was also wagyu tataki 9+ (marble score) but it was a big jump in price, costing $60!
Our third dish was the raw scallop and smelt roe sushi. When we ordered it, we didn’t know it was going to be raw scallops, or that it was going to be this small. Each of the three pieces was about the size of a knob of wasabi as pictured! There was more ginger than sushi! Hubby liked this but it didn’t really appeal to my tastebuds. I found the rice a bit dry.
Our fourth dish was the salmon tartar with caviar. The salmon was finely diced and put into a round mould. The salmon was sitting a bowl of soy sauce and topped with caviar. This was my first time trying caviar and I personally don’t see what the big deal is and why it is so expensive! I much prefer salmon caviar with the delightful pop in the mouth when bitten. The salmon in this dish wasn’t the nice, fatty part of the fish and had a mushy texture. I like the presentation though.
Our fifth dish was the new style salmon sashimi. OMG, I think I had my second taste orgasm with this dish! 😛 The waitress told us soy sauce, sesame oil and oil have been heated and then poured over the fish, much like they do at Chinese restaurants when you order a whole fish. It looks like it is topped with a whole lot of peppers, but it is actually sesame seeds and finely chopped chives. The sashimi pieces were so delicate and sweet, the flavour enhanced by the oil mixture and the slight searing. I said to hubby that the next time we go back to Nobu, I would be happy to only order two serves of this each! If you like sashimi, I would recommend giving this a go.
Our sixth dish was the black cod with miso. It was just as amazing as at Taste of Melbourne, another dish you must have if you go to Nobu. The flavour and texture of the fish is unlike any other fish you will have. The sweet flesh just flakes apart easily and it has almost a gelatinous texture. It is best eaten slowly so you can enjoy each individual flake. When we ordered the black cod, the waitress said instead of ordering one and sharing, they were having a special were you could get a half serve for $18. The half serve was about the size of what was on offer at Taste of Melbourne. The pink & white stick was pickled ginger, which you were supposed to eat after finishing the fish to cleanse the palate. I didn’t do that as I wanted the taste of the fish to linger as long as possible, not have the taste of ginger hanging around!
Our seventh and last dish was a mixture of tempura which we chose ourselves. We got 2 prawns ($9), 2 enoki mushrooms ($3), 2 Japanese sweet potato ($3), 2 tofu ($3). The Japanese sweet potato wasn’t the orange one we are used to, but rather it has a purple outer. The tempura had a nice light coating and wasn’t too oily.
Overall: Hubby and I really enjoyed the food and the delicate flavours. Sure, it is expensive and the serves are small, but the food at Nobu is supposed to be eaten slowly and every mouthful savoured. You are satisfying your palate rather than your stomach and our palates were very satisfied with our visit.
The best dish would be the new style salmon sashimi with the black cod coming a very close second. The least favourite dish for hubby was the salmon tartare and for me it was the scallop sushi.
Would I return? Yes, for another special occasion. It is too expensive to visit regularly, though I wonder if they would do takeaway for the new style sashimi! I would like to try everything on the menu – well, maybe one day when money grows on trees! 🙂
Over & Out, Rilsta xx