Tuesday 10 June 2008


Just as the tennis public heralded the arrival 21 years later after the fusion between Mr and Mrs Federer with all that elegant play, so did the food world rejoice when it was introduced to a young (now not so young) Japanese man by the name of Nobu Matsuhisa. With the backing of Al Capone and the all the hype of a Sex in the City movie, the celebrity chef brought “IT” to the most important southern state in Australia (apologises Tasmania) to be along side other food goliaths. “IT” being the uniquely Japanese and Peruvian influenced cuisine at his self-titled restaurant, Nobu.

The venue is low key, no frills, down to earth, much like the racquet superstar, with it’s red and chocolate hues, solid wood finishes with more of the tree appendages fencing the walls. Play singles matches on the cozy little tables that won’t fit much other than your choppers and the dish for your shoyu or be a knight at the round tables that invite players to share it around.

Swiss Maestro precise backhand slices of jalapenos bite off the surface of the lightly soy dressed whitefish sashimi that proves to be a perfect 15-love start. Beef seared quicker than a 1st round encounter against the world number 1 then thinly bladed is smothered in a lemony soy yuzu dressing garnished with chopped spring onion and flakes of garlic. New Style Sashimi from an old stager comes takes goodies from the sea such as scallops and prawn, served nude with only chives providing the same coverage as a Wilson natural gut string, sprinkled with sesame seeds and its oil for a bit of nuttiness and a citrus soy dressing. The balance of flavours impeccable, it really is an on the run Federer backhand whistling down the line in food form. As impressive is the lobster ceviche, the chopped crustacean meat sits on a leaf the colour of Wimbledon’s centre court, again lemony zing evident amongst a drop shot winner deft chilli paste. A messy mound of artichoke salad with its wheat noodles provides a pleasant change of ends to the warmer dishes.

Roger control of the ball is also found in the tempura. Sea urchin is lightly battered, fried to the point where not only the outer shell is crispy but also the little creature inside is heated to a warm gooeyness. Though this is no match for the Nobu signature that’s the Express at 23, the peak of its powers. Unleashing like a cross court forehand, the meaty steak of black cod that’s been soaking in a sweet white miso is baked til the fish is service line white, then grilled with a heat equal this his ground stroke so that the top caramelises to a fine crisp. Drizzle with lemon to completely change its flavour, an oversized novelty cheque bonus to go with this grand slam title dish.

Be prepared to open up the wallet, it’ll cost you an scalped ticket to the Oz Open’s women’s final. But with the extremely professional, informative and well drilled ball kids in black at the helm, Nobu, with all its grace, it’ll earn big prizemoney as well as a legion of fans to rival tennis’s ballerina.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? Crown, Whiteman St, Southbank, VIC
What? Small dishes $16, Mains $30

Left to Right : Whitefish sashimi, Beef Tataki with Yuzu Miso, New Style Sashimi, Lobster Ceviche, Artichoke Salad, Sea Urchin Tempura, Black Cod Miso, Sushi and Sashimi Platter

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