Nobu Kuala Lumpur
Time Out says
Nobu creates a genre and defies it at once. It’s the rebel child of the global fine dining scene – the brand that doesn’t follow rules; the chain that doesn’t suffer from the stereotypes of a food franchise; a sort that’s both sexy and casual. After two decades of work-meets-play and 28 restaurants around the world, southeast Asia sees its first Nobu on Level 56 of Menara KLCC. And for a city whose fine dining scene is nothing short of bland, KL is excited.
Designed by Studio PCH, the KL outlet is less sleek than its older New York or Vegas counterparts, and instead chooses to play with wood – lots and lots of it. Wood spans from the casual sushi bar area to the more lush private dining area to the club members area, used in various forms and displayed beneath various degrees of dimness. From the bar area and through the floor-to-ceiling windows, the view is at its starkest – you get a naked view of the Twin Towers’ middle portion as well as a sweeping view of KL’s twinkle.
Occasionally, the ponytailed Ash, a Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender finalist and formerly of Frangipani and Bakita, glides around the bar to make things like the Nobu Sochu Dragon (sochu, dragon fruit, elderflower and lemon) or the Yamazaki Sidecar (single malt, Grand Marnier and yuzu). If you’re sensible, you’ll order a drink. And you’ll sit on one of the many plush sofas. And you’ll drink your drink. Slowly.
The food at Nobu is just like its genre – shocking. Only a man like Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (aka Nobu-san) can so gracefully pair precise Japanese techniques with the colours and zest of Peruvian cuisine. And he’s done well to inspire Nobu KL’s executive head chef, Philip Leong. Formerly of Nobu Berkeley Street, the Ipoh-born Philip is mindful of Nobu-san’s philosophies, but throws in a surprise or two using local produce. While 90 percent of the menu retains Nobu’s specialities, some room is left for Philip to mess about. An instance is the Ice Kacang Nobu Style (RM35) – yuzu and Calpico shaved ice, coconut milk, azuki beans, palm sugar, mango, cincau jelly, green tea mochi and roasted coconut in one mind-bending bowl.
For Nobu purists, signatures like the black cod miso (RM160), toro tartare with caviar (RM80), Nobu tacos (RM13), tuna sashimi salad with ‘Matsuhisa’ dressing (RM120) and umami sea bass (RM160) are still on the menu. Sashimi – dubbed ‘new-style’– reflects on Nobu’s sushi chef’s knife skills just as much as his timing. Designed to suit palates that shy away from raw fish, salmon, white fish, scallop or razor clams are flash-seared with sesame oil for the slightest of char. This eliminates the seafood’s pungency but retains its natural creaminess – a style that is revolutionised by Nobu-san and his solution to ‘Westerners’ averse to raw fish. The fish is also soaked in splashes of yuzu-soy emulsion and topped with thin slivers of green onion – just one of the many culinary blasphemies that have made Nobu as well-respected as it is.
The Peruvian in Nobu kicks in with things like Chilean sea bass red jalapeno miso, steamed broccoli with shiso salsa and king crab with creamy jalapeno. The menu is biased towards hot South American peppers, miso, yuzu and various sources of citrus flavours, all pumped into seafood to create delicate umami flavours. And even if it’s all a bit showy, Nobu shows no sign of tripping over its own smugness.