Do you remember trying your favourite food for the first time?
I remember when I was younger the idea of eating raw fish seemed quite strange and at that time it wasn’t hugely popular in the UK but in my late teens eventually sushi boxes started to take the place of sandwiches, Yo! Sushi became a regular haunt and I started to fall in love with Japanese food. My sister was my partner is sushi-crime and we loved the fun of the Japanese ‘Kaiten’ and sharing selection boxes from Marks & Spencer and other high street places. But soon our fondness for sushi rolls meant we wanted to try the real deal. Back then there wasn’t the plethora of sushi restaurants in London that there is now but we set our sights on the very best…Nobu, Old Park Lane. Once there we clumsily held our chopsticks and we feasted on the freshest succulent sashimi, marvellous maki rolls and crisp shrimp tempura.
And then the black cod arrived, the delicious flesh of the fish marinated in miso, had a sweet, buttery taste on the tongues of us young sushi novices…it was incredible…that was it…we were hooked. I’ve now revisited Nobu Old Park Lane many times, always remembering it was the first time I ever had proper sushi…But Nobu has become a bit of an addiction for me and not only do I also love the Berkeley Street branch in London but I’ve actually visited Nobu restaurants on four different continents. My favourite being Nobu Malibu, a beautiful open restaurant where you can sit nibbling on edamame beans whilst taking in a stunning view of the ocean.
I was really excited to see that Nobu Old Park Lane was participating in the London Restaurant Festival and offering a special menu for £39 per person which could be booked via Bookatable. Lauren from The Lifestyle Diaries and I had been trying to get a lunch date in for a while and it was the perfect opportunity to catch up with the lovely lady and fellow foodie. We would be enjoying a four course menu starting with the dish above (first picture), seared tuna salad with light and zesty Matsuhisa dressing and a boiled prawn. Matsuhisa dressing is one of Nobu’s signatures and a mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil; simple but the perfect accompaniment to the tuna. Lauren loves bubbly as much as me and we were happy that the set menu came with a glass of prosecco or a belini which we guzzled as we caught up on Lauren’s recent holidays to Croatia and Marrakech and my visit to Bali and upcoming trip to St Lucia.
Next up was a sushi platter of tuna, salmon and sardine nigiri and two sushi rolls, of course everything at Nobu is of the highest quality and the simple sushi was perfection. In terms of decor, Nobu Old Park lane is very minimalistic and if you’re looking for a sexier surroundings I’d opt for Nobu Berkeley Street. For low light and an even more wow option, I’d choose Roka or Zuma…you’ll definitely have excellent quality at all of these restaurants but it depends on the atmosphere that you’re looking for.
For the third course there is the option of grilled baby chicken with spicy sauce or a sizzling seafood dish.
Of course, the obvious answer was both. I loved the delicious hunks of fish in the Toban Yaki particularly the juicy scallops and clams. The chicken dish had a beautiful light and slightly sweet soy sauce and came with perfectly cooked vegetables.
Personally, I find the history of the Nobu brand really interesting too: founder Nobuyuki Matsuhisa was born in Japan but after moving to Peru he developed a unique style of cookery that combined Peruvian ingredients with Japanese dishes. He opened his restaurant ‘Matsuhisa’ in Beverley Hills in 1987 and it soon became a hot spot for Hollywood celebrities and A-listers, including Robert de Niro. The chef and the actor formed a partnership setting up the first Nobu branded restaurant in New York in 1993 with great success and the partners started branching out and opened the first European branch in 1997: Nobu Old Park Lane. Now Nobu is a huge worldwide success and has been called the ‘hippest restaurant chain in the world’ by Vogue magazine.
Back to today and our dessert was mango and chocolate mousse with yuzu sponge, mango and lime sorbet. We were a little disappointed by the dessert, though overall we agreed that for a set menu it was very good. I couldn’t help but think a 6 foot tall man like Mr S would have left hungry as there were no side dishes but it was perfect for an elegant lady’s lunch for Lauren and I.
After finishing our lunch we headed next door to the Four Seasons for a coffee (cos that’s how we roll…) and were having such a fun time catching up we didn’t even notice it was getting dark and early evening had descended…definitely a sign of a great time.
I’ll always remember the first time I visited Nobu, and it’ll forever be one of my favourite restaurant brands, I loved experiencing it with Lauren and I’m so glad that the set menu lived up to the usual standards.
The London Restaurant Festival is running until the 31st of October with over 200 restaurants featuring good value festival menus allowing you to enjoy the hottest locations, Michelin star restaurants and fun locals places for less. The festival menus, including the set menu at Nobu, are all bookable via Bookatable until the end of the month.
Nobu Old Park Lane
19 Old Park Lane
0207 447 4749
Lauren and I dined as guests of Bookatable but independently of the restaurant