Nobu: Not Your Typical Japanese Restaurant

 “You can’t go wrong with a truffle butter sauce,” stated our waiter at Nobu West Hollywood as I told him I was enjoying the tender rib eye steak with thin crispy onion strips and chives. The luscious truffle butter sauce was full of heavenly flavors. Opened in 2008, and designed by David Rockwell in the old L’Orangerie landmark, Nobu is filled with dark wood floors and web-like artistic wall panels backlit in red. The original design was a little too New York for Californians, so they warmed up the interior of the main dining area by adding some booths and lowering the ceiling to give it a more relaxed and cozier feel.  It works, yet the trendy background music makes it feel like a hip club. What makes Nobu unique is that they have over 200 dishes that aren’t on the menu.  When your waiter greets you, he will ask if you would like to order from the menu or have a meal tailored to your culinary likes. We ordered from the menu, because the items looked so enticing. The cocktail menu offers 14 pages of specialty drinks, sakes, whiskeys, champagnes, wines, beers, and after dinner drinks.  I started with a smooth mango martini with mango infused vodka, passion fruit and fresh lime juice.  I was pleased to see they offer a Happy Hour seven days a week from 5-8pm with selected drinks between $4 – $9.Since Nobu West Hollywood recently installed a state-of-the-art brick oven, I was eager to try one of the brick oven dishes. I ordered the edamame with crispy garlic chips and shichimi (Japanese spice with seven ingredients). It’s cooked in heat of over 600 degrees that creates a scorched flavor on the outside, yet locks moisture inside. The edamame beans had the consistency of baked yams and the garlic chips give it zest.

Next, we tried the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno.  It’s served with fresh cilantro to wrap around the outside of the yellowtail.  The coolness of the cilantro, and spiciness of the jalapeno provides an outstanding balance flavors.

The Tasmanian ocean trout with garlic, chives, and pickled ginger cleansed our palettes before we tasted the rock shrimp tempura with a creamy spicy sauce. The shrimp was lightly battered and served on a bed of mixed greens. They also have a rock shrimp tempura served with a butter and lemon sauce.  I thought cream sauce had the perfect about of seasoning and was addictive. I couldn’t eat just one.

Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa is the first Japanese chef to prepare black cod miso with a sweetened caramelized glaze. It’s his most popular signature dish and is attempted at other Japanese restaurants, but it rarely tastes as good.

Throughout the evening, there were at least four servers dressed in black working each table.  Our glasses were never empty, plates were removed quickly and replaced with a clean one for a new arriving dish. Many of the servers have worked at Nobu for years. They are a family, having worked with each other at the Nobu in New York, Dubai, and Hawaii.

Experience Nobu during dineLA restaurant week, starting Sunday October 3 to Friday October 8 and then October 10 to 15, with two special dineLA menus. The first is a three-course individual menu with a choice of three appetizers, three entrées and desserts. The yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, that I enjoyed so much, is one of the appetizers.  For an entrée, my favorite black cod miso is listed.

Another dining option is a five-course family style menu, where dishes are shared between diners. Both are an incredible value of $44 per person. It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience one of Los Angeles’ finest Japanese restaurants. 

903 N. La Cienega Blvd. (310)657-5711.

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