lunching at nobu

8:24 AM Sian Mei Yeoh 0 Comments


the chef who journeyed from japan to peru traversing back to his homeland after a few years in argentina and finally settling down in the united states - nobuyuki matsuhisa.

a restaurant bearing its founder's namesake, spanning across five continents, serving dishes rooted firmly in its japanese roots fused with a whiff of southern american - the chef/restaurateur embodying his gastronomical journey in his creations.

a restaurant that i yearned to try since it found its scenic malaysian home on the 56th floor menara petronas 3 just earlier this year.

black cod miso

nobu without black cod miso is akin to "music without notes".

unbeknownst to me of its significance in nobu's history, i made my rendition to mimic the restaurant's signature dish several years ago.
- imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all. 

i enjoyed my craft but i wanted to try the fish at the heart of its creation. 

the hefty price tag of its famed dish (rm 165) warrants a special occasion, which meant my tasting gratification had to wait. however when my friend suggested the relatively affordable lunch sets at this japanese restaurant, i jumped at the suggestion as a preview of what could be.

with a dramatic 360 degree view of kl city skyline taking center stage, nobu takes on a classy minimalist decor, which were predominantly textured blonde wood furnishing and fixtures, echoed by the monochromatic colors of brown and beige for a simple finish - making way for the magnificent view and sunlight illuminate the space through the full length windows.

the lunch crowd was few which allowed us to pick a seat by the window to soak in the beautiful scenery and warmth of the sun to envelop us in its embrace. however, we were seated right below a speaker so the jazz music was a little louder than we liked. 

lunch sets :: sushi & sashimi | served with tempura, salad, rice, pickles and miso soup (with complimentary green tea and nobu biscuits) (rm 75)

a plethora of food staring back at me which made me smile, appreciating gleefully at the glistening colorful pieces of the fresh raw fish and scallop. i knew immediately i had to start with those, the main stars. 

p.s. considering this was NOBU, my expectations were higher while i held my experience here against my previous japanese dining experiences, including the ones i had in tokyo.

my first piece was the slightly sweetened tamago. slightly taken aback that it was still slightly cold resulting to a texture that was less fluffy. the thick cuts of sashimi slices were so fresh that it didn't really require any additional seasoning, where the meaty textures were a joy to the tastebuds.

on the other hand, the sushi had a mix bag of ups and downs. the rice were cooked just right (as were the bowl of rice) of separated grains but light on seasoning but i was hoping it was warmer to contrast the slices of fish. the scallop was torched lightly attributing to its slight textural contrast but the semi-fishy flavor as i chewed was almost a tad off that i wished i had more wasabi with it. 

out of the trio, i was saving the one that i was looking forward the most - the mackerel (aji) sushi, which was one of my unexpected favorites during my tokyo food hopping. consuming it all in a single bite, the green onion and the ginger was in the forefront before tasting the meaty fish. even though kept to a minuscule amount, the shaved ginger was dry that translated to an abrasive heat dominating the delicate flavors of the mackerel.

the tempura - a mostly crisp batter that coats the shrimp, a plump shiitake mushroom and the slice of pumpkin protectively. the mushroom was cooked just right, the shrimp was slightly overdone and the sweet slice of pumpkin was my definite favorite with the play of texture. the tempura coating on the shrimp was thicker than i'd like and it threw me off that while it wasn't greasy, i could still distinctly taste oil in the coat of tempura itself. however, the dashi dipping broth was delightful in umami punch that it brought the tempura assortment up a notch.

some of the side kicks made good impressions. the pickles were made meticulously that it tasted fresh (in a good way) which was great to cut through the rest of the dishes. the miso soup possessed an umami flavor profile with a hearty bean paste flavor with a smoky disposition, arousing a sense of warmth as the soup trickles down the throat. the salad however, was forgettable with just greens tossed in a asian vinaigrette.

lunch sets :: norwegian salmon crispy leaves | served with tempura, salad, rice, pickles and miso soup (with complimentary green tea and nobu biscuits) (rm 65)

it had the same essentials of the lunch set with a substitution of the entree. the entree was a chunk of crispy salmon paired with similarly lightly fried green leaves, atop the ponzu butter and embellished by vibrant ikura.

the salmon had a crispy skin but the flesh was surprisingly overcooked just ever so slightly - shaving off a little of the fish natural richness quality. the flavor profile was delicious with the sudden burst of flavor of the sea intertwined with umami from the ikura, against that light tartness of the sauce and the additional texture from the crispy leaves.

at the end of our meal, i'd almost forgotten about the nobu biscuits - it was green tea butter cookies sprinkled with sesame. it was sweet, buttery but really light on the green tea flavor so the bitterness was fleeting. it wasn't amazing but it was not bad.

lunch service is available on weekdays between 12pm to 2pm. while the ambiance (minus the loud music due to our choice of table) and service was good, i have to admit i was left a little disappointed by the food, more specifically with the mastery in execution even though the freshness and quality of ingredients were undeniable. perhaps it is my high expectations for nobu that has led me to nitpick on every little detail since it is a renowned fine dining restaurant. even so, i am still tempted to return to try out the black cod miso and taste how i fared against the original.

nobu kuala lumpur | location
level 56 menara 3 petronas
persiaran kuala lumpur city center
klcc, 50088
kuala lumpur
{opens weekdays (lunch): 12 pm - 2pm
mon - sat (dinner): 6 pm - 10:30 pm}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.