One thing I have noticed about San Diego dining is that a lot of the high-end chain restaurants are gaining popularity. I could be totally off the mark on this observation, and please chime in if I am.
*all claims below are from San Diego Magazine 2009 (Readers' Picks)
Best of the Best: The Oceanaire Seafood Room. CHAIN.
Best Steakhouse: Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. CHAIN.
Best Asian Fusion: Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. CHAIN.
Best Sushi Bar/Japanese: Nobu. Also a CHAIN.
Now people. That to me, seems like a lot of chains dominating the dining scene. You know what they say, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do".
For my first night in San Diego, a few friends and I decided to check out Chef Nobu Matsuhisa's San Diego Nobu chain. We were pleasantly surprised and had a nice meal there.
Chef Nobu opened his first restaurant in Peru at the age of 24. It wasn't until 1994, after forming a close relationship with actor Robert DeNiro, that the first Nobu restaurant opened in New York City. It was a huge success, and he now owns 24 restaurants around the globe.
Chef Nobu has certainly gained popularity and success over the years: Nobu Las Vegas was awarded one Michelin star in 2007, and the chef has appeared in movies such as Austin Powers Goldmember and Memoirs of a Geisha.
To start, we had a platter of sauteed shishito peppers and edamame. Both were sprinkled with a generous portion of sea salt.
This was the first time I had tried shishito peppers, and I was surprised at how mild they were. Japanese cuisine is normally mild, and these peppers fit the glove.
Shishito Peppers and Edamame
For my salad, I ordered the heart of palm salad with jalapeno dressing. The hearts of palm were fresh and crunchy (not like the canned stuff I was used to), and they were shaved very thinly. The jalapeno dresssing was mild, and it was mixed with a lime juice. Pink peppercorns were used as a garnish for the dish. I shared this dish with everyone at the table to spread the joy.
Heart of Palm Salad with Jalapeno Dressing
My generosity was reciprocated by J sharing his Nobu style shashimi tacos with me. We each had a yellowfin tuna taco, and a crab taco. Both were topped with a creamy avocado sauce. The tacos were delicious and the tuna was melt in your mouth, gotta have more tuna. Need I say more?
Nobu Style Sashimi Tacos
Other starters included the carrot tempura, and
King crab tempura with butter ponzu sauce.
King Crab Tempura
For my main, I ordered two things:
The first was obvious, spicy yellowfin tuna roll. For those who don't know, I CANNOT have sushi and not order a spicy tuna roll. I have an obsessive personality, so when I'm hooked, I'm really hooked.
Spicy Yellowfin Tuna Roll
My second dish was the baby abalone sashimi. Actually, I chickened out, and had a combination of the sashimi and cooked abalone. As it turned out, the raw abalone was MUCH better than the cooked version.
Both the cooked and raw abalone were combined with a light garlic sauce, and the cooked version was sauteed with shiitake mushrooms and asparagus. The dish was garnished with green and purple kelp.
R is a small eater and ordered the new style yellowtail sashimi. The difference between regular sashimi and their new style sashimi is that the new style is sliced very thinly and is combined with soy sauce and garlic. R really enjoyed this dish. He was still hungry afterwards and ordered a veggie tobanyaki.
New style Yellowtail Sashimi
M ordered the beef tobanyaki: beef, asparagus, enokitake mushroom, and shiitake mushroom all cooked on a ceramic dish.
N ordered the shrimp tempura roll. The wasabi at Nobu is hand chopped and is not the creamy goo one would normally see.
Shrimp Tempura Roll
J ordered a combination of sushi and sashimi: uni, mackerel, unagi, and yellowfin tuna sashimi.
Sushi and Sashimi
For dessert, I ordered the passionfruit malasadas, bite sized passionfruit filled donuts. Served with the donuts were fresh strawberries and strawberry sorbet. A simple yet satisfying dessert.
J ordered the cajetas and blueberries: cajeta cream, blueberry preserves, crispy cocoa filo, and Japanese beer sorbet. Cajeta is a thickened syrup made of caramelized milk, and is similar to dulce de leche. The only difference is that cajeta is normally made of a combination of goat's and cow's milk.
If you were wondering about the beer sorbet, it was different but wonderful.
Cajetas and Blueberries
R ordered the lemongrass and honey dessert. This was layers of lemongrass mousse, honey gel, and hazelnut cake. On the side were fresh kiwis, and kiwi gel.
Lemongrass and Honey
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, we were pleasantly surprised by the food. Everything was wonderful and we all left the restaurant satisfied.
207 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, California, USA