Named after founder and chef proprietor Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Nobu is world-famous, with 27 restaurants across 21 different cities spanning five continents. It’s also famous for its esteemed co-founder, Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro. We’ve been meaning to dine at Nobu Perth since it opened at the Crown Perth (then still known as Burswood Entertainment Complex) in September last year. We finally made it there this weekend.
We had a 7.30pm dinner reservation but arrived early to have a drink in the bar. The bar is styled in brown, gold and olive tones, featuring the much-photographed lantern chandelier (artistic cola effervescence or creepy eyeballs?), also a centrepiece in the main dining room. Just before 7.30, we were invited to take our seats in the restaurant.
The menu is extensive and designed for sharing. Our waiter suggested we choose two to three cold dishes, followed by two to three hot dishes.
First, one of the day’s specials, yellowtail with mustard sauce (AU$26), the fish ever so lightly grilled, still rare in the middle. Next came the pork gyoza (AU$32), wonderful little meaty pillows, square rather than the typical crescent shape, fried to a really good crisp brown with springy chewy corners.
The black cod miso (AU$46) is Nobu’s much talked about signature dish. The cod was superb – served skin-side down with delicate white flesh and a sticky sweet caramelised crust. We ate this exquisitely fine piece of fish with steamed rice. A gentle touch is needed to lift each mouthful to one’s lips using chopsticks as the fish simply falls apart. At lunch time on Tuesday to Sunday, black cod miso is available in a bento box served with sashimi salad, chef’s choice sushi, sauteed vegetables in spicy garlic sauce, tempura and miso soup (AU$45).
After this began the embarrassing shenanigans of a game no one wanted to play, called “Sorry, but what did you order again?”
It took several bamboozled, flustered and apologetic waiters, the delivery of two dishes we had not ordered (pork belly miso caramel and prawns in spicy garlic sauce), our twice recapping what we’d ordered and the offer of complimentary drinks before we received the rest of our meal: prawn butter ponzu and scallops with spicy garlic sauce.
The prawn butter ponzu (AU$24) was fiendishly moreish, with buttery bursty popcorn prawns.
Finally, the elusive scallops in spicy garlic sauce (AU$24) – to our surprise, basically a stir-fry with bright beautiful asparagus, red capsicum and juicy sliced mushrooms. The scallops were plump and tender but to our taste seemed to lack seasoning; unusually, we enjoyed the vegetables more than the seafood. A bit of an anticlimax after the comedy of errors it took to get to our table.
We shared a dessert bento box (AU$18) with chocolate fondant and green tea ice cream (not pictured). The fondant was richly chocolatey with a molten gooey centre, the ice cream the perfect cool companion.
I probably wouldn’t even mention the order confusion if it was the only blip of the evening but to be honest, we were disappointed with the service at Nobu.
The staff were pleasant and friendly, but we felt badgered by staff members too eager to take our order – we were asked by three different waiters just minutes apart whether we were ready to order, which we weren’t. They were also overly keen to clear our dishes, attempting multiple times to clear plates when we were not yet finished, failing to notice an essential visual cue – we still had chopsticks in-hand. When attentiveness is not executed well, the result is nervous hovering and painfully bad timing that quickly becomes exasperating and off-putting. Or were we being clumsily rushed through our meal for an unmentioned late seating?
The legendary black cod miso is a stunner but the meal was memorable for the wrong reasons. For the prestigious price and reputation, we expected a more polished, much less awkward dining experience.
Great Eastern Highway
Burswood WA 6100
Telephone: (08) 9362 7551
Lunch from 12pm Tuesday to Sunday
Dinner from 6pm daily
Bar opens at 5.30pm daily
Note: Much is written about Nobu’s fusion of Japanese and South American cuisines. We didn’t deliberately avoid the obvious fusion candidates on the menu; they just didn’t appeal to us on the night as much as the dishes we ordered.