NOBU Waikiki

I am thrilled to kick off my inaugural restaurant review with the acclaimed restaurant NOBU Waikiki!

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa is of course Japanese, but my dinner host tells me he was heavily influenced by his years in Peru, as is evident in the appearance of “tacos” and “ceviche” in the menu at his Honolulu restaurant.

I am a big fan of fusion cuisine, where foods from different cultures are married together in a creative way. Japanese food tends to get married off into 国際結婚 (international marriage) often, and most of the time it’s a match made in heaven. But sometimes fusion cuisine can go wrong, in which case it simply becomes unauthentic Japanese food. When people mess up Japanese food, it makes me a little mad.

Anyway, back to NOBU.
In my book, they’ve done it right! I was delightfully surprised by the combination of flavors in the “new style” dishes, and comforted by the traditional Japanese dishes. Here are some highlights:

NOBU Style Sashimi Tacos ($18.00)
Served with Guacamole, Salsa and Chimichurri Sauce, these bite-sized appetizers are fun to eat!

 NOBU Waikiki - NOBU Style Sashimi Tacos

NOBU Waikiki - NOBU Style Sashimi Tacos

Black Cod with Butter Lettuce ($9.00/2pc)
The concept of a lettuce wrap is simple: wrap any savory items in cool crisp lettuce and enjoy the explosion of flavors, textures and hot/cold in your mouth. The idea to wrap black cod (aka butterfish) is genius because the butterfish has all the right criteria as lettuce filling: it’s warm, savory, and buttery. They add crunchy phyllo dough strips to add texture.

 NOBU Waikiki - Black Cod with Butter Lettuce

NOBU Waikiki - Black Cod with Butter Lettuce

Also consumed but not pictured are:

  • Edamame ($5.00) and Shishito Peppers ($7.00)
  • Bigeye Ahi Poke NOBU Style ($19.00)
  • “New Style” Oysters ($12.00/3pc)
  • Salmon Skin Salad ($17.00)
  • Steamed Sea Bass with Dried Miso ($29.00)
  • Rock Shrimp Tempura ($20.00), Kahuku Corn Kakiage ($11.00/2pc) and Assorted Vegetable Tempura

We ended our meal with Miso Soup and some Sushi.

Then we really finished with a selection of scrumptious desserts and a Passionfruit Sake ($15.00). I am not a drinker, but I fell in love with this dessert sake.

NOBU Waikiki - Passionfruit Sake

NOBU Waikiki - Passionfruit Sake

One thing to note is that the Chef really likes to use 柚子 (yuzu citrus) in his dishes. I swear I tasted it in every dish with the exception of maybe the tempura, miso soup and sushi. Good thing I love yuzu, but it may be redundant for some people.

The service was excellent. As soon as she realized our hosts had the responsibility of ordering for our entire party, our server provided some suggestions for signature appetizers and salads that offered something for everyone. She collaborated with our hosts throughout the evening in ordering the hot entrees, soup/starch and dessert. It was a perfect progression.

Overall: WOW
Price Range:Ala carte generally ranges from $9-$25 for salads & appetizers, $12-$46 for hot dishes, and set dinners range from $32-$40 . Also available are sushi/sashimi/tempura by the piece, and Chef’s Omakase dinners from $90.00 and up
My Bill: N/A
Returning?: Love to

NOBU Waikiki
2233 Helumoa Road
Honolulu, HI 96815
(Located on ground level of Waikiki Parc Hotel)
Sun-Wed 5:30p-10:00p
Thu-Sat 5:30p-11:00p
Mon-Sun (Bar Lounge) 5:00p-12:00a


February 2009
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