8 Whiteman St
Southbank VIC 3006
+61 3 9696 6566
My 2009/10 edition of The Entertainment Book was about to expire and the 25% off the bill offer for Nobu was just crying to be used. Despite my less-than-WOW experience at Nobu last year and despite my promise not to return again, I somehow ended up back there again over the weekend. This time, for lunch. Like most other Crown restaurants, Nobu offers a two-course set lunch for $45. Combined with a 25% discount, one can’t really go wrong even if the food quality fluctuates as much as RIO’s share price. Plus, I figured that lunch at Nobu would be a different experience to dinner.
With Jan and Jo in tow, we braved the footy, the International Flower & Garden and Grand Pricks Grohnnn Preee crowds to make it to our 1pm lunch booking. We were free to choose two courses from the extensive a la carte menu except that most of the decent-sounding mains that we wanted to try were marked with an asterisk, meaning that they were excluded from the lunch offer. Eventually, the three of us decided to forgo the lunch special and just get the $45 bento lunch box each.
Prior to the bento box arriving, we each received a bowl of miso soup. Unfortunately, I could not find any photos of the miso soup but pffft I’m sure we ALL know what miso soup tastes like, right?! It was pretty much the same as any other miso soup but, I dunno, somehow grittier-tasting in a good way?
Even though a $45 bento box is by no means cheap, I still expected one single box that was as big as the Good Food Guide. Hence, you can sort of imagine how shocked I was when two waiters came bearing two long-arse boxes for the EACH OF US! How’s THAT for a bento box… or should I say BOXES? Starting clockwise from top left, I will now discuss each compartment in turn (I promise I’ll try to make it short and painless):
Sashimi salad with Matsuhisa dressing: three slices of barely-seared salmon were snugly nestled on a bed of greens accompanied by shredded daikon and carrots. I really liked the soy-based sauce was wasn’t overly salty and had a lovely hint of nuttiness thanks to the addition of sesame oil and mustard.
Assorted sushi: From L-R – maguro (tuna), (hiramasa) yellow tail kingfish and ebi (cooked prawn), followed by three little pieces of toro toro negi sushi (tuna belly and spring onion sushi). I wasn’t expecting much from Nobu’s sushi so I was pleasantly surprised to taste how fresh they were. Okay, so nowhere near as fresh as Shoya but well above average, that’s for sure.
Baby tiger prawn tempura with ponzu: The first thing I noticed about this dish was that THEY BLOODY POURED THE PONZU DRESSING ALL OVER THE PRAWNS INSTEAD OF THE ROCKET AND ENDIVE SALAD! Of course, this made the prawns extremely soggy which would have naturally provoked a volcanic reaction from me. Luckily for Nobu, the ponzu sauce was so lovely that I restrained myself and ate my dish, soggy prawns and all.
Black cod with miso with oshitashi (spinach with roasted sesame): Nobu’s signature dish and one that every person who walks into Nobu MUST order. Not ordering it would be like ordering a Hawaiian pizza but without the ham or the pineapple (though what kind of person would order a Hawaiian to begin with… anyway…). I loved the dish the first time I went to Nobu and my love for the beautifully silky and buttery cod certainly did not wane. Love, love, LOVE IT!
Finally, we have the spicy garlic vegetables with rice. I can honestly say that after tasting such wonderful dishes, this one was a bit of a let-down. The sauce tasted vaguely like kim chi which was already a minus-one for me (not a fan of that stuff) but the fact that it was something that I could find at a suburban shopping centre food court made it a complete fail. On the other hand, I guess I could say that the rice was uh, filling.
All up it was $135 but we brought it down to just over $101, making it a very affordable $33.75 per head. We were so full that we could not fit dessert in even if we tried – a far cry from my last visit to Nobu which left me hungry still that I had to go elsewhere for a plate of dumplings. This lunch alone was enough for me to restore my faith in Nobu, perhaps as a lunch venue but the jury’s out on whether I’ll be back for dinner.