Monday, September 12, 2011

The NOBU experience
My husband and I love Japanese food. For as long as I can remember - eating at a japanese restaurant was always a "happy" moment for us. One of our earliest birthday celebrations for me was at a Japanese restaurant called Shokuji in Salcedo Village. I remember being on night shift that night, and going out only for a birthday dinner break. On another occasion, we played hooky and went all the way to Katipunan to have lunch at Kamirori (an old college favorite of mine). For the past 5 years, we've celebrated our wedding anniversary at our favorite Japanese restaurant in Manila - Senju, at Edsa Shangrila Hotel. In fact, Senju is one of the reasons why I continue to keep my Club Edsa card... so that we can continue to enjoy the fabulous Japanese food there.

I first read about Nobu years ago. I read about the collaboration between Nobu Matsuhisa and Robert De Niro - because Robert De Niro just loved his cooking. The first restaurant was in New York - and I can only imagine how hard it must be to get reservations (if you were in New York, in the first place!) I did not even dream of trying out the restaurant at that time. I contented myself with buying the cookbook and imagining what his food must taste like (I have a great imagination, especially when reading recipes). I also wanted to have the original recipe of the Black Cod Miso, a signature Nobu dish, a "copy" of which I was able to taste in Singapore.

Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno
Fast forward to 2010 when, on a trip to Hongkong, my husband surprised me with reservations at the Nobu restaurant in the InterContinental Hotel. I had been updating my research on Nobu - and I had told him that there is a Nobu restaurant in Hongkong already. It was not to drop hints - because I knew it would be expensive to dine there - but hey, we can dream, right? The restaurant at the InterCon is on the second floor, and has a great view of the Kowloon bay. Despite my advice to go at lunchtime (to take advantage of the cheaper lunch menu), he insisted we go for dinner so that we can enjoy the lights and sound show coming from the buildings across the bay, at Central. The restaurant is not too formal - they welcomed us with warm smiles as we walked in in our jeans, sneakers and numerous paperbags (from a day of shopping). We asked one of the servers to suggest dishes that we could try out, given it was our first time. We were quite happy to try out small appetizers rather than actually have a full main course - in order try out more of Nobu's dishes.

Beef Tataki with Onion Ponzu Sauce
Alaskan Crab with a sweet vinegar sauce
Yellowtail sashimi is always good - but the jalapeno and special soy sauce on this dish added an oomph that was at the same time yummy, and not overwhelming. Next, we tried the beef tataki - which is very simlar to the Italian beef carpaccio. We felt this was such a worth it dish - it came in a serving that was more then enough for two people. Despite not ordering the Angus version, the beef was very soft and tender. Of course we had the Black Cod Miso (what's the point of lusting over it for years, if I don't at least try it?), and it did not disappoint. The cod was soft, and cooked perfectly. The sweet miso glaze was perfect - and no matter how many times I read the recipe, i probably will not be able to imagine what it actually tasted like. We also tried some Alaskan Crab, fried like tempura, and served with a warm, sweet vinegar sauce.

Toro Tataki with Yuzu Miso
The one dish that deserves it's very own paragraph though, is the Toro Tataki with Yuzu Miso. This is a dish that must have literally been made in heaven. "Toro" is tuna belly - in this case, a very high quality, fatty belly; "tataki"is a manner of preparing fish, and literally means "pounded" or "hit into pieces." Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit giving the creamy miso sauce a hint of citrus in it. After slowly relishing the toro, and even the shiitake mushroom on top... it took all of our willpower not to slurp up the sauce! The dish was quite pricey for four pieces of toro... but it is well worth the price. I will keep ordering this, each time we get to visit Nobu (which shouldn't be often!)

Nobu Signature Bento Box

We raved about the Nobu experience to our friends, enough to convince them that we should all try Nobu again on our next trip to Hongkong. So in 2011 - we went back for seconds (Nobu, twice in less than 12months - what a splurge!) This time we went for lunch. Most of us ordered lunch sets or bento boxes so that we can personally order what we wanted to try. The bentos came in Japanese lacquered boxes - 2 layers for each bento order. Each compartment, again, had a generous serving of quality Japanese cuisine. These bentos are definitely worth trying!

NOBU in Hongkong is located at the second floor of the InterContinental HongKong, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hongkong, SAR. For reservations, call +852 2313 2323


  1. Oooh, must try Nobu next time we go to HK. I love Kamirori in college too but it was a bit expensive to eat there regularly on a student budget haha. You should also try my husband's chef friend's resto in QC. He makes amazing beef tataki.

    Another friend made a review here --

  2. i've actually been wanting to try that other restau you were recommending - the one in Burgos Circle? yeah - kamirori was our splurge lunch out in college. i loved their ice cream crepe desert. Do you know they are opening a branch soon at the Petron station beside Citibank Libis?

  3. Oh, Keizo is yummy too. Very authentic. I know the owner. He's Jap and the chef is Jap too. He came from Dusit and Kuretake I believe. The sushi is always fresh. The decor isn't so great though. Haha. But it's like a regular resto in Tokyo na odd yung decor.