I definitely believe good food is healing. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that going for a run isn’t going to cure depression, or eating guacamole without coriander isn't going to stop scary people with the world’s most fragile masculinity from holding the planet hostage with the most destructive, phallic shaped weapon in the history of the planet, but your soul can only take so much trauma before it’s just… too tired.
These were my thoughts as I entered Nobu. 2018 has been, in the words of a Northern friend, A Shitter. I needed what Nobu offered; the finest Omakese dining, where we left the chefs to make the decisions for us. Found in the impressive hotel of the same name, fellow DesignMyNight-er Faith and I walked through the lobby and descended into a contemporary space, split between the bar and restaurant. We sat initially in the bar section, slightly in awe of the huge back bar. It reaches into the sky with bottles of sake and whisky, as if we’d stumbled into a fancy witch’s house who has a penchant for Japanese liquor.
After sipping some whisky-based cocktails, we were led to our seats in the dining area. We were surrounded by young professionals, each seemingly more beautiful than the last. Ahead of us were three men, who must’ve been separated by twenty years in age each, having sophisticated conversation; behind us three young women spent more on shots of sake than I earn in a month. It’s safe to say they have an eclectic clientele. And with a DJ getting started in the bar, it certainly wasn’t a boring kind.
As we sipped on a glass of white, we were presented with the first dish in our Omakase (£85) tasting menu, a delicious Toro Tartare with caviar. It was easy to see why this dish was so famous at Nobu: presented in a bowl on a bed of ice, the tuna tartare was an absolute dream, with the miso sauce adding a tangy depth to the dish. Of course, eating caviar made me feel like a land baron, but it ended giving a texture to this already gorgeous tuna dish – I’ve been in amazing French restaurants that haven’t served tartare like this.
As the dish touched my tongue, I felt a little lighter. Japanese food is a favourite of mine, and I felt its effects on my spirit. Suddenly, my anxious thoughts of the girls behind us sinking countless cash into those shots eased; there was more important food-related issues. The next course was a miso soup, which was a nice enough interlude, but that’s about it. The chef's selection of sushi, obligatory in a Japanese restaurant, was next - and absolutely fantastic. From the whitefish to gorgeous mackerel, it was the kind of pic’n’mix Scrooge McDuck would be proud of. As were my tastebuds.
The meal so far was dreamy. The atmosphere carried me through course after course – the place is electric, the kind of energy that only comes from young people having a truly great time – and my own company was pretty sweet too. Yet while my troubles were eased, the kind of soul-healing that comes from incredible food hadn’t struck.
The beef kushiyaki that came next was gorgeous, coming with a teriyaki kick and tasting incredibly tender. In any other mood, with any other build up, I would consider that top class. But it was as if I sensed something else was coming: the Black Cod Den Miso. Oh, my god. A black cod, cooked to such an absolute perfection that it carried in the chopsticks and broke apart in succulent chunks in the mouth. The outside was sweet, caramelised, the kind where it looked as good as it tasted, and it looked like Chris Evans and Chadwick Boseman had a baby. I’ve eaten a lot of great dishes this year, and this comes close to the top. It wasn't just a dish I liked, it was a dish I needed.
The DesignMyNight Digest
It was something in the air at Nobu. I walked in with the weight of the year on my shoulders, but the atmosphere in this restaurant was electric, the drinks sublime, and the food built up to a final act so spectacular that I floated out of the building at the end of the night. Great food might not be the cure to the world’s ills, but Nobu certainly is the treatment.