Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nobu Melbourne

8 Whiteman St
Southbank, VIC 3006
Ph: 9696 6566
Website: Nobu

Nobu, famously owned by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa and Robert De Niro, has been on my list of restaurants to visit since it first opened in the Crown Complex many years ago. The restaurant is up against quite a few other places inside Crown, but seems to hold its own and be very busy each time I walk past. The space itself is quite strange, and although architecturally beautiful, I don't personally think it works as a restaurant. The upstairs area is an informal bar area, with music blaring out from a DJ. As you walk downstairs, you encounter a sushi bar area and tables spread around the main central staircase. The way the room is broken up makes it feel disjointed. I was seated in the far corner of the back end, and it was extremely loud there due to the open arrangement of the two levels. The tables are spaced extremely closely such that you feel like you're intruding on your neighbours meal.

The menu is very large and broken up into cold dishes, hot dishes, sushi and sashimi and various mains. The waitress was excellent in describing how it all worked and made some great recommendations. She was also relaxed while being professional, doing a great job all night.

Upon her suggestion, we decided on a few cold dishes, a few hot and some mains dishes. To start, the one must have dish we both wanted was the Sea Urchin. It's not cheap but sea urchin is oh so delicious. Like oysters, it's just the taste of the sea that explodes in your mouth. Some Snow Crab Sushi Rolls were also good, but given another chance, I would have just ordered another serving of sea urchin instead. Two plates of fanned food arrived, with the Yellowtail Kingfish Sashimi and Beef Tataki with Ponzu both being very delicious. The kingfish was served in a nice soy and jalepenos on top, which really worked for me. The beef tataki was similarly tangy, with the ponzu and garlic chips really adding to the glorious tender meat.

The signature dish of Nobu, the Black Cod with Miso, lived up to it's reputation. The meat was cooked perfectly and that sweet glaze on it was divine. I really like the firmer type fishes that hold their texture when grilled in this manner.

A King Crab Leg Tempura was definitely to my liking. Juicy crab legs were coated in a nice light batter, bathing in a ponzu sauce. The Roasted Duck Breast with Fig was good and not so good. The duck breast itself was cooked perfectly, but the figs did not work well with the dish for me. The Tempura Sweet Potato and Eggplant was a bit oily for me.

To drink with our meal, we had sake, served in a big bamboo section, very cute. The sake was amazing, and I wish I remember which one it was. To go with our Chocolate Fondant and Green Tea Ice Cream dessert, we chose an 18 year old Calvados, which is an apply brandy that Neil first told me about. The fondant was very rich and excellent, although the Calvados was the highlight. It was so fragrant and smooth and really hit the spot.

Overall, I had an enjoyable dining experience. The majority of the food was good, with some being excellent. The service was also very good. The restaurant ambiance wasn't completely to my liking. It is far too loud, with the music pumping upstairs and the wooden walls reflecting all the diners conversations. The layout also meant the room feel extremely disjointed. I won't be rushing back to dine again, not because the food is bad, but I find it too expensive for the experience that you get. At $160 per person, I would expect a more memorable meal rather than just a good meal.

Overall Rating: 14/20, Some good dishes but too expensive for the experience you get.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Nobu on Urbanspoon


  1. yeh, after many a "not-so-great" reviews, i've lowered the priority of going to nobu. LOL. i've put koko much high up =)

  2. KOKO vs Nobu - I prefer Koko anytime. Even my sister's guardian who loves his Japanese food, prefers Koko.

    I had a pretty bad experience at Nobu.

  3. Hmm, when i was here shortly after they opened, my family and I really had a miserable time and weren't impressed by the food. Been tempted to revisit but it's hard to be motivated when there are so many other great eateries in Melbourne... :)

  4. I <3 Nobu... altho must admit I haven't been there in a year and a half... Love love love their desserts... but I think over rated at times...

  5. I've often wondered whether it was worth going to Nobu. Maybe for the lunch so that it's not quite as earth shattering pricey?

  6. I agree with you - the food is fairly good, but it's soooo pricey!

  7. Allan, I would recommend lower the priority just as it's good, but super expensive and probably not worth it. Koko is also very good and cheaper too.

    Michelle, seems like most people like Koko. I too like Koko and it's cheaper. What happened to you at Nobu?

    Ashley, I know what you mean. Melbourne has so many great places that you just don't feel like revisiting bad ones to give it another go. Unless there's heaps of great reviews for it, they may have just had an off night.

    Aaron, the food was good, my opinion is that its not justified by the price.

    Celeste, lunch would be a good option to sample it without breaking the bank. The food is tasty, just expensive. Try Koko upstairs as that's nice and not as expensive, especially if you have an Entertainment card.

    Agnes, looks like everyone is in agreement, which is strange in itself. :-)