Restaurant Review #6: Nobu Malibu

At Nobu Malibu, I died and went to sushi heaven. I savored the following:

Mushroom salad
Kelp Salad
Tiradito (Peruvian-style sashimi)
House Special Roll
Spicy Yellowtail Roll
Red Snapper nigiri
Mackrel nigiri
Kanpachi (young yellowtail) nigiri
Yellowtail nigiri
Avocado tempura
Shiitake tempura
Pumpkin tempura
Matcha (yes, it was!)

My friend had two shrimp tempura rolls and the kobe steak. He doesn't like seafood, so the fact that he liked his first roll enough to order a second definitely says something.

Rock shrimp with creamy spicy sauce

On a previous visit, before I realized I was allergic to shrimp, I had the rock shrimp, and those were the best shrimp I have ever had.

Nobu Matsuhisa is known for his Peruvian-influenced sushi dishes. His innovative creations have inspired many a roll gone bad at lesser restaurants, but the real thing is divine.


The tiradito cold plate consists of thin slices of halibut with a drop of hot sauce in the center of each piece. I enjoyed putting a single cilantro leaf on top of a piece of the tiradito and rolling it up with my chopsticks. I appreciated the presentation, originality, and intense flavor of this dish, but I would have prefered a more flavorful fish. Would the dish have worked with mackrel, I wonder? I could see the mackrel going with the spicy sauce, but I'm not sure about it going with cilantro. Of course, hot sauce and cilantro are strong flavors that might overpower or clash with a more flavorful fish.

The mushroom salad was to die for if you are a mushroom fan. It had a variety of sauteed mushrooms--shiitake, enoki (alien mushrooms), oyster, and more.

I tried to eat the kelp salad as a leftover the following day. I didn't like it at all, and thought the tangy dressing was a poor match for the seaweed. Not eating the dish fresh was probably part of the problem. It had white, yellow, bright green, and bright pink seaweed, making it surprisingly colorful for a seaweed salad.

The nigiri was all great. It was what it was supposed to be. Need I say more? Maybe not, but I will anyway. I especially enjoyed the red snapper, which I hadn't had before because while many places list it on their menu, it's not always available. It most closely reminds me of yellowtail, but I think I liked it even more than yellowtail (my favorite).

I didn't enjoy the kampachi, though it wasn't an issue of quality, just an issue of personal taste. I really hate the texture of shiso leaves. It's kind of like putting a think slice of scratchy cat tongue under my fish. And this fish, to me, tasted kind of soapy. Odd, I know.

Yellowtail and jalapeno cold plate

At Nobu, you can order a multitude of different kinds of vegetable tempura in sets of two instead of just getting a huge plate of mixed veggie or shrimp tempura, so I got the stuff you can't usually get - shiitakes, pumpkin, and avocado. I don't really think avocado tempura is a good idea, but I think mushroom tempura is heavenly. The high heat from deep frying seals in the mushroom's moisture, creating a fantastic and rare combination of crunchy and juicy.

I was excited about the tea because rather than dunking a bag of green tea in boiling water, it was obvious that this was real matcha, a powdered green tea mixed with a special bamboo whisk. It was a bit frothy on top--something that regular tea just doesn't do. I've never seen another restaurant serve this.

I really enjoy the atmosphere of this restaurant. The low lighting gives the restaurant a warm glow, and the place isn't too big or too noisy. It's in a somewhat secluded (and difficult to find) location, so there isn't outside noise from the highway or nearby businesses (most of which are closed at night). Our table was plenty far away from everyone else's, making it ideal for private conversation, but we did specifically request a quiet table ahead of time.

Nobu's dessert offerings include a banana filled crepe, dark and white chocolate spring rolls, a trio of creme brulees, a flourless chocolate cake, and homemade ice creams

As if the great food weren't enough, when it came time to leave, staff asked us where we were headed because PCH had just been closed again due to rain and mudslides. They called someone to make sure it really was closed, then made sure we understood the alternate route home they wrote down for us. The staff was very friendly and not pretentious at all in spite of it being an upscale restaurant that sees its share of celebrities (from what I hear). When we requested a particular table, we got it. When my friend requested that the check never get anywhere near our table so I wouldn't be preoccupied with the price since it was supposed to be a treat for me, the staff followed through. When one of my rolls had shellfish in it, which I am allergic to, they apologized about five times and re-made it immediately. Also, we werestill there about 45 minutes after closing, and almost everyone, including most of the chefs, had gone home, but no one so much as looked as us funny (even if on the inside they were wondering how anyone could possibly eat so slowly). It really felt great to be treated so well. Overall, I had to wonder why I bother eating at lesser quality restaurants when I could be having more experiences like this (if I saved my pennies--this kind of quality ain't cheap!).

This is one of my favorite restaurants and I recommend it to you highly.

The outdoor seating area

Nobu MalibuMalibu Country Mart (off PCH, where Ben and Jerry's, Marmalade, and a movie theatre are)
3835 Cross Creek Rd
Ste 18A (it's tough to find, bring their phone number with you in the car)
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 317-9140
Hours: Mon-Thu 5:45pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 5:45pm-11pm
Sun 5:45pm-10pm

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great pictures of Nobu. I love, love that place. I've never sat outside yet though.