I can't think of anything in the world that would unite a family together more than the act of sharing a meal does - that's definitely the case with my family! When we were a lot younger, it went without saying that either Friday or Saturday nights were dedicated to gathering together at a certain relative's house. We would mostly enjoy pot luck feasts or my grandmother's cooking and each night mainly featured many rounds of hearty mahjong games for the adults and numerous hours of glee playing hide and seek chasey for us kids. Such gatherings have become fewer and far between as we've all grown up - our house parties are relatively smaller and secluded between just a few families unless it's a big event like a birthday or Chinese New Year. My extended family, particularly my grandparents, are avid jet setters and these days, it's so rare to get us all in one room together. Recently, it was my eldest cousin JH's 24th birthday - unfortunately, my grandparents weren't in Australia at the time, but it was still a wonderful time for the rest of us to gather together and celebrate!
As far as exuberant Japanese cuisine in Perth goes, it's hard to not put a finger on the world's most recognisable Japanese restaurant chain, Nobu. Since it's arrival in Crown Perth, it has become a family favourite for birthdays and my own personal solace in Moscow whenever my longing for Japanese food had gotten far too much.
My own personal opinion of Nobu varies; I think that there are dishes that are executed extremely well, but also others that are not worth mentioning. It's on the pricier side of the dining spectrum, even for what it is especially since generosity is not always a celebrated factor. However, I can't fault what Nobu does do well and am happy to return every once in awhile to enjoy some long standing favourites.
My cousin had kindly reserved two private rooms to accommodate the entire family - there's definitely quite a fair few of us! A few of my other cousins frequent Nobu far regularly than I do and didn't hold back from casually joking with the Maître d' upon arrival. The private area gave us all a great deal of space to relax, be ourselves and enjoy the stunning sunset over the Crown Perth pool area.
Just as a general note: Our dishes were served banquet style and each plate generally comprised of more than 1 standard serving. So if you're a regular and realise that our plates look a little more generous than usual...there's a reason for it! The prices given are representative of Nobu's menu and account for 1 serving of the respective dishes.
When we were young, us kids were encouraged to eat as quickly as possible so as to make space around the large marble table for the adults to tuck in after us. We were incredibly competitive in eating, largely due to being rewarded with praise for finishing dinner and washing up first. It's created a lasting impact on us; my family eats fast. Don't be surprised to see a few chopsticks digging in mid photo - I wanted my family to be as candid and as relaxed as possible throughout the meal. Tonight wasn't really about me photographing for a review; it was more like documenting our time together and I was glad to be able to capture our food loving spirit on camera! First up - Nobu's signature Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño.
The familiar, silk like yellowtail goes down a treat - with each bite, the flesh of the fish gives ever so slightly. The mouthful is kept interesting and rounded off by the delicate lick of spice from the slither of jalapeño.
Of all the sashimi variants on earth, Tuna has long been my favourite of them all. Fatty tuna, lean tuna, medium tuna, seared tuna...you name it and I'd definitely love it. The tosazu dressing was slightly tart and earthy; I loved the textures from the garnishes, as well as the seared corners of the fish itself.
Nobu offer a variety of intricate mini tacos which include everything from your premium offerings such as Wagyu Beef and Lobster, to a more seemingly regular Pork. However, I assure you - there's nothing regular about the Pork Tacos. They're crunchy, bursting with flavour and something that we definitely had a whole lot of trouble sharing fairly! Devouring the entire plate would have definitely made me one happy customer. As wonderfully fresh as the sashimi starters were, the unexpectedly complex flavours of the pork tacos impressed me the most.
I'm a huge fan of sashimi salads and Japanese salads in general; as far as dressings go, the Japanese seem to nail it every time. They're always tasty, zippy, unique and have the ability to turn boring greens into something much more. Although I found the Matsuhia dressing a little salty, it's still hard to fault the star of the show; lightly seared salmon sashimi pieces.
Ever since it became a special on the menu, this has been one of my favourite dishes from Nobu. I'm now a huge fan of incorporating watermelon with seafood; a love affair that began the very first time I tried this dish a year or two ago. It's an all in one mouthful kind of dish; the sweetness from the dressing and the watermelon pair so beautifully with the crunchy, salty soft shell crab. For your next visit to Nobu, I implore you to request the Watermelon Soft Shell Crab - although it doesn't officially appear on the menu, it's a dish that's well worth asking for!
Whilst this generous platter of gyoza looked the impressive part, the filling was noticeably on the dry side and a little under seasoned. Even when dabbled in the accompanying pumpkin puree, it was a mouthful that couldn't be revived - the soggy gyoza skin didn't do the overall taste any favours either.
The "popcorn prawns" soon arrived, both in Spicy Garlic Sauce and it's slightly extra terrestrial looking Wasabi Pepper counterpart.
I like my prawns bursting and crisp, but both dishes unfortunately lost their crunch factor under the heaviness of each respective dressings. Without that crunchy texture, I found them to be a lot more negligible, even despite how sensationally flavoursome the sauces were.
This was a rare occasion when there was more than enough of Nobu's world famous Black Cod Miso to go around. It was the moment that most of us had been waiting for and it was nice to see that instead of the usual intricate drops of miso sauce, we were treated to a generously filled dish of the iconic condiment.
The Black Cod flaked apart at the slightest touch and each layer is steeped with a tantalising, caramelised flavour. What makes this dish so impressive is just how well the fish is cooked; it's a universal thing - from Russia to Australia, the Black Cod Miso has managed to retain it's consistency and that is what makes this dish so impressive to me. Go to town with that caramel miso sauce, won't you? I think that it's such a beautiful way to enjoy such a perfectly cooked piece of fish.
Before we settled in for dinner, a few questions were being thrown around about what actually is poussin? In short, it's chicken and technically speaking, it's a young chicken which is generally slaughtered within 28 days of hatching. I can't say that this was a favourite dish for me; I found the texture of the poussin to be too chewy and a little like cooked liver.
I didn't quite fancy the toban yaki sauce either; but if you enjoy sweet braises that spark with ginger - this is something that you'll enjoy! Although I'm receptive to gamey flavours, the texture of the poussin is what ultimately led to me not go back for a second spoonful.
The Rib Eye is one of the few dishes on Nobu's menu that fall under the "generous serving" category. It's our staple stomach filler that we usually engage in to round out the main courses with. The distinct, elegant aroma of truffle is absolutely impossible to ignore and the sight of three, dinosaur like rib eyes on each table was enough to make mouths water, despite the dishes already gone past.
When people ask me for a good steak recommendation, I've got to start sending them to Nobu. I was reminded again that night of just how impeccably well they execute the premium rib eye that is absolutely smothered from beginning to end in the most exuberant truffle butter. Every rich and lavish mouthful keeps you coming back for more and leaves you practically hacking at the bones before you sit back in complete satisfaction.
After a mainly satisfying symphony of savoury dishes, the tables were cleared whilst we waited for the desserts to arrive. It was awfully surreal to step out onto the balcony and reminisce over the years we spent playing in the pools of the former Burswood Entertainment Complex. Crown Perth today is most certainly a far cry from what use to be our water wonderland in the mid 90's. These days, the pool is no longer accessible to hotel club members and remains exclusively available to Crown guests only.
I still like to keep the privacy of the people in my life as under wraps as possible - which I know, is quite impossible in our contemporary, technology embracing world. My cousins especially did eagerly profess about appearing on my blog; this is a very likely possibility in the coming months as we often travel together like a tight knit wolf pack. I really do appreciate their enthusiasm and the support that they've given me and I'm sure that they're bound to appear on this space more regularly in future and in a much less mystically shrouded fashion!
It wasn't long before till our chosen desserts had arrived and the birthday song was being belted out bi-lingually with gusto. I like to use Nobu's Miso Cappuccino as an example of how far branding and branding through social media has come. Two years ago, Nobu put the very same dessert out minus the chocolate Nobu accent. Next to the fondant bento box, this is probably the most photographed dessert on the menu. These days? The chocolate Nobu logo proudly sits atop of each cappuccino with purpose! Be sure to take a dig deep; the best mouthful of Miso Cappuccino comprises of combining each individual layer of caramel, coffee and vanilla.
Nobu's bento box is the family favourite and if you had any doubt about how they'd go producing numerous perfect fondants all at once - let me dispel all skepticism immediately! Each fondant had that pièce de résistance of an oozing chocolate centre and was paired with a perfectly round ball of bitter green tea ice cream.
Although I find the pairing of green tea ice cream with a chocolate fondant to be a little out of the box, it's a dessert that is sure to impress purely and simply because of how consistently perfect the fondant is. It's a crowd pleaser and although not outlandishly unique, it is a delicious dessert that acts as a comfortable go-to for finishing off any meal at Nobu.
Unlike a few other of my favourite Japanese restaurants in Perth, I find that Nobu's extensive menu can be hit and miss at times. I've found that knowing exactly what to order is key to having an overall enjoyable experience every time. So far, the sashimi seem to be a clear deliverable on every visit, whilst more pedestrian cooked dishes such as their roasted vegetables and gyozas are more likely to be mediocre. I highly recommend trying the tacos, the rib eye, the black cod miso and my favourite, watermelon soft shell crab! The service provided for us at the function rooms was mostly attentive at the beginning of the meal, however as the restaurant got busier, beyond bringing in new dishes, we were largely left alone until just before the desserts arrived. We have no qualms whatsoever with refilling our own water, but for others - this may not be the level of service you would expect from a restaurant of Nobu's calibre and price tag.
I remerged from Nobu feeling extremely contented for having spent a rare night together with a large majority of my extended family. It was especially rewarding for me to hold my camera up for a group photo at the end of the night - I had to stand at the very edge of the lobby to fit everybody in! The venue worked for us in a way that we would have liked and I'm sure that that's exactly what JH was hoping for - an open space for us to come together, be amongst ourselves, enjoy great food and even better company!