Nobu – Las Vegas, NV
Nobu - Las Vegas
4455 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89169
Nobu, a Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant chain following in the footsteps of the original ‘Matsuhisa’. This chain – was created by Nobu Matsuhisa and Robert deNiro. This high-end chain of restaurants has a presence in cities across the globe.
My first ever visit to Las Vegas was work related – to attend one of their massive conventions. Lucky for me, my boss (at the time) shared a love for Japanese food, which resulted in my required attendance for dinner at Nobu. Located inside the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel, Nobu is tucked away just off the main floor casino. I didn’t have much time to peruse the menu – as we had decided prior to arriving that we would be having the ‘omakase’ (Chef’s choice) dinner.
They offer two different versions of ‘omakase’. The first ~$100 included a selection of regular menu items, filtered by preferences and general likes/dislikes as questioned by the server. The second version ~$150 included some more exotic items, and higher quality ingredients. This posting covers two separate dining experiences about a year apart – covering both.
After enjoying a round of cocktails to get the evening started, the fun began:
The first dish to arrive was a bluefin toro tartar with black caviar. Chopped toro sashimi, formed in a circle mold, sitting in a sauce of soy, wasabi, garlic and onion. This was by far – my absolute favorite! (My dining companion had issues with caviar, which they gladly accommodated.)
Second to arrive was kampachi sashimi, each slice topped with thin slices of jalapeno pepper. I’ve had this (since) prepared both as-described, and with the ‘new-style sashimi’ twist – where the sashimi is drizzled with smoking-hot oil. In both cases – the cool buttery kampachi and kick from the jalapeno, match spot-on.
Third dish, was a seared tuna salad. Specifically – I believe this was seared ahi-tuna, with two small pieces of maki (snow crab wrapped with daikon), dressed with a ponzu & daikon dressing. Unanimous decision – this was superb.
Fourth, was announced as Nobu’s signature dish – black cod in miso. Baked black cod in a sweet miso sauce, garnished with a fried shiso leaf, and umeboshi. My dining companion selected this as their favorite at the end of the evening.
Fifth to arrive was the rock shrimp tempura with creamy spicy sauce. The sauce is a spicy mayo, where the spice heat-level is quite low. Of all of the dishes – this was the least interesting. Still very addictive, but it seemed a little too common for this setting.
Next a plate of Nigiri Sushi arrived – with a basic selection of items. Well made, and presented – as expected.
Lastly – a small bento box arrived containing the dessert course. Removing the lid, uncovered a flourless chocolate cake, green tea ice cream, and a white chocolate sauce. The photographed dish was the special birthday presentation they provided – containing the same items – but with a nice birthday flair.
Overall – this dining experience does sit as one of the more memorable. Each dish was very well done, tasted great, and all parties enjoyed every single dish!
Again, starting the meal with a round of cocktails, we eagerly awaited the food tour to begin:
Trio of Ceviches: An oyster shooter (fresh oyster with a citrus sauce and an egg yolk), Lobster Ceviche & Caviar: (not my favorite – it seemed as though they forgot to add a sauce), and bluefin toro tartar with caviar (similar to the basic omakase – one of my favorites)!
Next was a kampachi sashimi, dressed with diced shallots, grated daikon and yuzu.
Another sashimi dish arrived next, containing seared salmon with micro greens, dill, and a light miso dressing.
Then came the sharkfin. I don’t have a photo of this dish, but probably for the best as I’m sure this may trigger some comments that eating this promotes cruelty to sharks. It was prepared in such a way that it looked like a semi-opaque, gelatinous noodle, served in a shallow dish coated with a similar looking sauce. No real discernable flavor – just a unique texture. Not something I’d ever intentionally order or crave to eat.
Next, we started moving to some more substantial eats. Lobster, seared fois-gras, shiitake mushrooms, and white asparagus puree. Superb!
Then came the wagyu beef, grilled asparagus and ponzu. Believe it or not – I was on the fence with this dish. Was it good – definitely yes. Does wagyu beef taste better than all other beef – this is where I have trouble answering yes… However, the tender, fatty beef and ponzu sauce – was an absolute perfect match.
Next, we were served a small bowl of asari miso (soup with baby clams), and an offering of nigiri sushi. Compare this selection against the basic omakase, and it’s clear how they step-up to a completely different league – amaebi, escolar, giant clam, kampachi, o-toro (amazing).
Finally – the dessert course. A nice (not too sweet) selection of biscotti, and caramel flavored quenelles of what I thought was marscarpone.
Overall – the special omakase seemed as though it was a parade of expensive ingredients, for the sake of nothing more than to try and use them… If I’m faced with the decision between the two options again – I am almost certain I would choose the basic omakase, as there wasn’t a single item that I didn’t like.
Las Vegas is now full of celebrity-chef endorsed restaurants – but if you win a few on the casino floor and have a couple hours to enjoy a nice meal – I’d suggest giving Nobu’s omakase a toss of the dice.