After a bitter disappointment at having to cancel my first invitation to an Omakase Sake and Food tasting at Nobu restaurant at the One & Only Hotel I was so happy to get another invite…Double Happiness Yay! I made a conscious effort to restrain my eating that morning (read hauled myself away from the fridge at least three times in as many hours) to allow for space for said sake and culinary extravaganza. And boy, am I so pleased I did.
Nobu is a worldwide chain which sounds so commercial and KFC-like but it really is anything but. Its more like the Louis Vuitton of Japanese dining. A consistently slick and utterly elegant experience and thanks to the age of gossip mags, one made famous by the celebs who frequent it’s London, Los Angeles, New York, Melbourne, Tokyo and Hong Kong (to name a few) bases. Started in 1994 by Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa with Robert de Niro as a partner, the Nobu signature of accessible fine Japanese dining with a fusion element (he spent time cooking in South America so its not just a fashionable turn of phrase) is an award winning formula.
So, back to the tasting…
Omakase is a Japanese phrase that translates as ‘from the heart’ and in the context of a tasting is the menu selected by the chef that best represents his skills and the freshest and best produce and ingredients in his kitchen. The Nobu Cape Town Omakase menu is peppered with loads of local ingredients and as befits the brand and the coastal setting, fresh seafood and fish choices feature prominently.
We started with in an introduction to the making of Sake and its complexities and how its flavours that range from earthy and moss-like to citrus and melony are the perfect partner to so many ingredients, especially of course, Japanese. What followed was a procession of exquisitely presented offerings – from yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno to the lightest crab leg tempura with a slick of sweet ponzu sauce, a perfectly sized portion of crisp pork belly with spicy miso (i can still taste its delicious crispy crackle and sweet meat)…the list goes on. All the servings were plated on handcrafted ceramic or glass plates, the portions were around two bite-sizes and each was of course paired with a different Sake (an arguably more complex product than wine and one with centuries of tradition). What amazed me was how the clear and concise flavours of the Sake really allowed the edible ingredients to burst in your mouth and each mouthful produced a chorus of oohs and ahs from my fellow food writers including the fabulous Michael Olivier who is one of the most knowledgable and likeable epicureans around. He agreed that the Nobu Sake and food pairing is an extraordinary affair and would make for a really special evening’s gourmet entertainment.
An afternoon well spent, afterwards I left the cool confines of the One & Only, waddled to my car and proceeded to make my way home in the traffic with a memory bank crammed full of spicy, sweet, salty, crispy, crunchy, succulent tasting menu memories.Ah, happy day.
Take note: this one’s a Hot Date Night must although at R650 per person, you’d do well to invite someone extra special
One & Only Cape Town
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
021 431 5200