When it was announced early last year that global restaurant star Nobu would go west as part of the no-expenses-spared Crown Conversion of Burswood (of which the addition of Rockpool Bar & Grill in 2010 was Step 1), I suspected this otherwise well-regarded diner would receive some mixed reviews from the Perth public. Indeed, if popular views as espoused on websites such as Urbanspoon are anything to go by, my suspicion was correct.
Unfortunately, any restaurant that sets up in Perth is automatically positioned behind the 8-Ball in my view. Nothing is cheap in Western Australia; not labour, not ingredients, not rent. Nada! If Nobu’s signature dish of Black Cod with Miso can be used as a reasonable indicator, then New Yorkers shell out 30 USD for the pleasure whereas it’s 46 AUD here in Perth. Ouch, huh?
On top of dealing with the higher cost to offer its menu, Nobu Perth has also got a heck of a reputation to live up to. Perthites will be a mixture of jet-setters familiar with the standard from having dined at Nobu overseas, hipsters/wannabes who want to eat where the stars of Twilight eat, and then there’s those of us who simply want to enjoy a nice meal in proportion to the cash we shell out. So, how did it fare for me?
Personally I loved Nobu, as did my husband. The sashimi (Yellowtail with Jalapeno) and California rolls weren’t particularly amazing (but I didn’t need my arm twisted to scoff them…) but the fantastic little ‘tacos’ (we had lobster and pork) were packed full of flavour and fun. ‘Prawn Butter Ponzu’ consisted of bite-sized tempura prawns with that irresistible East/West flavour combo of rich butter and zesty yuzu soy.
What really sold us however, was the Pork Belly Miso Caramel. It floored us totally. I was scared to see if ‘666’ was scored on the bottom of each morsel because surely the dark prince himself prepared this. I feared what mortal sin I would need to commit to procure another serve of this fine belly but fortunately, all we had to do was ask the waiter.
Desserts were fun-filled treats. I was a little apprehensive about trying the Miso Cappuccino but surprisingly, the miso simply served to accentuate the coffee and didn’t demand being centre stage. My husband had the banana spring rolls (harumaki) with sesame ice cream and passion fruit coulis. I was a bit jealous that I didn’t pick that but luckily he’s a sharing sort :)
Overall, I had a wonderfully pleasant evening at Nobu. The staff, though perhaps still a bit green to the Nobu/high-end dining concept (engaging in casual banter in earshot of diners is a touch annoying), was helpful and very friendly. This was important since we had Master 8 with us (his dining option was tasty teriyaki chicken skewers with rice, by the way). They were otherwise suitably attentive so I can easily overlook the lack of polish here and there.
The welcome greeting of ‘Irrashaimase’ was probably too liberally applied at Nobu Perth. One or two staff at the door and the sushi chefs should probably chime in but perhaps not the entire roster with such robust abandon. It got a bit annoying after a while and you can’t help but look up to see who has entered the building, mildly disppointed that no one famous waltzed in.
The wine and cocktail list was a fun read and I think I’d enjoy a leisurely drink at the bar before being seated next time. The restaurant has been kitted out beautifully and there is a rather sexy ambiance to the place. If you were hoping to impress a date for whatever cause, Nobu is probably where you should take him/her.
I’d more than happily dine at Nobu again.