I am a new convert to Japanese food and have been really eager to try out food and wine pairings in this sphere. A friend’s birthday last Friday night was the perfect opportunity. The venue of choice? Nobu London.
Situated on Old Park Lane in the heart of Mayfair, the restaurant is light and airy with great views of Hyde Park. A popular haunt of the rich and famous – whilst we were there we spotted Karen Brady of The Apprentice.
For a Japanese newbie like me a lot of the menu felt like another language, but the staff were extremely knowledgeable and patient, explaining every dish in detail as well as giving us some cracking recommendations.
First up was the spinach salad. Whilst it sounds relatively boring, the reality couldn’t be further from the perception. Baby spinach leaves, coated in truffle oil and yuzu juice, topped with dried miso, fried leeks and parmesan. You can probably see why this is hands down one of my favourite Nobu dishes. The last time I ate this I had it with an Albarino and it really picked up on the delicate citrus notes of the yuzu.
We were recommended the beef tenderloin tataki with ponzu and garlic chips. The beef literally melted in your mouth, and the whole dish had a similar flavour profile to a steak tartare with an oriental twist. It was a perfect match with the Louis Roederer Brut NV which we had ordered to kick off the night.
Next we had some rock shrimp tempura (amazing), the signature dish of black cod with miso (outstanding) and then a platter of various cut sushi rolls (the soft shell crab was my favourite).
The pan-fried dover sole was also delicious, but the best thing about this fish was its skeleton. It had been deep friend and was crispy and edible. Something I have never seen before, but I would definitely be up for having again!
Japanese cuisine is abundant in umami and therefore notoriously difficult to pair with wine, but we lucked out on our choices. As there is so much fish and seafood (both raw and cooked), and lots of fresh flavours we found ourselves leaning towards white wines on all occasions. The unique Gruner Veltliner grape variety made an appearance, as did a Chablis by one of my favourite Burgundian producers: Patrick Piuze.
We ended our meal with the obligatory Chocolate Bento Box with green tea ice cream, a variety of ice cream mochi and an espresso martini to perk us up. If I could afford to make eating here a weekly habit, I most definitely would.
19 Old Park Ln, London, 020 7447 4747
Rating: 5 glowing stars