Come for the black cod and stay for the views at the world’s biggest Nobu.
While the opening of Atlantis The Royal continues to make waves, attention should not be diverted away from its predecessor Atlantis, The Palm. An icon on the Dubai skyline, the powder pink Palm Jumeirah property is home to FACT’s restaurant of the year Ossiano and the soon-to-open Frantzén from Nordic chef Björn Frantzén.
Despite competition from Gordon Ramsay at Atlantis, few names can conjure up culinary clout quite like Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who built his restaurant empire with actor Robert De Niro, opening the first branch of Nobu in New York in 1994 before expanding to the UK in 1997 and Dubai in 2008.
With a reputation for culinary excellence, Nobu Dubai relocated from The Avenues to The Bridge Suite on the hotel’s 21st floor in January of this year, creating the world’s biggest Nobu in the process. And what a restaurant it is.
Arriving at the Bridge Suite, the space is almost unrecognisable from the place where Nicole Scherzinger told Rylan Clark he would be proceeding to live shows on the ninth series of The X Factor. During its impressive transformation, Nobu Dubai has maintained much of the brand’s DNA with its sculpted ceilings, lavish light fittings and elaborate woodwork. Bigger doesn’t always mean better, but the vast terrace offering views of Palm Jumeirah and the glittering Dubai Marina skyline certainly helps.
Yet, the expansive restaurant space is not without glitches. The transition between the kitchen and the front of house works like a well-oiled machine, and it’s impressive to watch plate after plate of perfectly presented Japanese cuisine disappearing into the engulfing darkness of the dining room. However, during busy periods, the floor team appear overwhelmed and service becomes less personal and more stifled. Despite managing several tables, the terrace and the private dining rooms, our waiter remains upbeat and apologetic. Drawing our attention away from the wait time for food and drinks and towards the theatrics at the sushi counter. It’s a pleasant diversion.
The Nobu Dubai menu offers cold dishes, hot dishes, kushiyaki, sushi, sashimi, nigiri and tacos. The latter, stuffed with lobster wasabi sour cream, spicy salmon or wagyu beef deserve accolades, and it’s easy to see why they have been grouped separately. We begin with Nobu’s signature Yellowtail Jalapeño, where delicate slithers of sliced yellowtail topped with fiery slices of jalapeño never disappoint. Similarly, the Japanese Wagyu Beef Tataki swimming in ponzu sauce and topped with caviar showcases the premium ingredients and bold flavours upon which the Nobu brand has built its reputation.
It’s not all hits, and despite the pretty plating, we find the New Salmon Maki to be rather bland. The same can be said for the Rock Shrimp Tempura, which despite a creamy ponzu coating, doesn’t offer the depth of flavour we have come to expect from such a dish. Sensing our disappointment, the chef sends over the Grilled Langoustine Chili Shiso Salsa, which despite its somewhat retro presentation in a Martini glass, offers a plump serving of shellfish amidst a desirable dressing – now that’s service recovery for you.
Chef Nobu first served Black Cod with Miso at his Matsuhisa restaurant in Beverly Hills during the late 1980s and is seen as the originator of the ever-popular dish. The tender fish infused with the sweetness from the miso remains a must-order over thirty years later and it’s hard not to succumb to its charms. The beauty of Nobu is in its consistency, so whether you’re dining in The Bahamas, Istanbul, Jeddah, Marrakech or Tokyo, the experience remains the same and the signature Black Cod is a great indicator of this.
Delightful desserts at Nobu Dubai include Bento Box Chocolate Fondant, Chocolate Matcha Ice Cream Cake and Miso Cappuccino. Swayed from our usual Bento Box order, we try the Mochi Doughnuts, only to find the rice cake dough stuffed with lotus slightly cloying. However, the signature feather-light Nobu Cheesecake served with wasabi-raspberry ice cream offers the finale we were expecting.
Nobu’s relocation into the Crown of Atlantis, The Palm, offers an impressive transformation, taking the Japanese dining experience to new heights and presenting diners with stunning views across the Arabian Gulf. Sure, the price point is high and the experience can feel a little touristy, but the appeal of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s modern Japanese cuisine is the real draw.
GO: Visit www.atlantis.com/dubai/dining/nobu for reservations and more information.