Location: 129 N La Cienega Blvd Beverly Hills, CA 90211. (310) 659-9639
Date: May 6, 2011
Cuisine: Japanese Fusion
Rating: As good as it’s always been!
Some good friends were in town who had never tried Nobu Matsuhisa‘s particular blend of Japanese Peruvian Fusion. As popular as this has become in the last fifteen years, and how every derivative restaurant in America throws a few of his dishes on the menu, the original still rocks. I also scored a Friday night reservation in the coveted and private “Omakase only room,” where his cooking is showcased to the best effect.
This aged 1st Cru white burgundy from my cellar was the very expression of mature chardonay.
As you can see from the color. This wine is ready, more than ready, as it might have been a tad better two years ago. Still it had a wonderful floral perfume to it.
The private room seats eight, and has it’s own sushi bar and kitchen.
“Seafood springroll with heirloom tomato and caviar.” This is the only repeat of the night, a Matsuhisa classic.Fry is always good, but it’s actually the combination with the spicy tomato chutney/salsa that really sells the dish.
One of the private kitchen chefs working on the appetizers.
Different members of our party got slightly different versions of this quartet of amuses.
“Seared salmon, new style.” That is with sesame, ponzu, and warm olive oil.
Kanpachi (young yellowtail) with a bit of red peper and ponzu on a radish.
Red snapper carpaccio, with chives, garlic, and vinegar.
A second version of the plate.
Tai (red snapper) sashimi, new style.
Yellowtail collar marinated in miso (a Nobu classic), baked, and then served with a bit of garlic and texture on letuce. You wrap it up and eat it like a soft taco.
Japanese baby conch, sauteed in garlic butter (escargot style).
The creepy crawly himself. Chewy and a little bitter, in a good way.
Burgundy goes very well with the Matsuhisa flavor profiles. The first time I ever went here, in 1996, I brought a Gros Frere Clos Vougeot. This 2005, Parker gives a 92. “The 2005 Clos Vougeot from Drouhin’s two parcels in that famous cru, is much more earthy and less fine-grained than the majority of their wines from this vintage, but it exhibits impressive concentration. A bone meal-like meld of mineral and meat dominates the nose and suffuses the palate along with black raspberry, plum and cherry fruit accepted by faintly bitter fruit pit notes. This is quite full and rich, but without being heavy; overtly tannic and chewy, but without being coarse. A promising more tart than sweet juiciness of black fruit mingles with roasted meat and stony, chalky minerality in the finish.”
Sashimi salad, with yellowtail, seared blue fin tuna, various dressings, and hearts of palm.
Par boiled Santa Barbara prawn with a tiny bit of salad (including hearts of palm). This was really yummy, even better than the cooked version we had last time. The meat is very sweet and succulent, delicious warm but essentially raw.
Sea bass on a bed of mushroom “risotto” with white truffles. The little spears are pickled ginger shoots.
“Fois gras, seabass, mushrooms, in a very rich reduction sauce.” Very meaty and tasty, the sauce was a pretty awesome blend of all three contributors of yum: salt, sweet, and fatty. The little red fruit is a pickled leeche.
Another very nice, red burgundy, this one (unlike the others) from the restaurant’s list. We drank more than I thought. 🙂
Grilled Toro, with enoki, aspargus, and other mushrooms.
American Kobe Beef with asparagus, garlic, and a spicy sauce and mustard. Really yummy (and rich) dish.
Each person gets a little sushi plate, there were a couple variants, this one has no shellfish.
A version where everything is cooked.
The “normal” plate for those who eat everything.
Chu-toro (medium tuna belly). Perfect!
Kanpachi (young yellowtail). Like butter.
Anago (sea eel), in the classic sweet BBQ sauce.
The pretty laquer soup container.
Inside is snapper soup. I haven’t had this one before, although it’s a classic mild Japanese fish broth with cilantro and scallions. The fish is soft mellow whitefish in this context.
My brother got a special surprise, the eye. The chef’s convinced him to try it. “Good for the sinews and joints.”
Japanese Sea Scallop sushi, with a bit of yuzu. Always one of my favorite sushis, and this didn’t disappoint.
Baby squid, battleship style. They’re raw, but tossed in a kind of sweet miso-lemon dressing. Really tasty.
And we finally make it to desserts. Fruit tart with ginger ice cream. This was a total fan fave with the ladies.
Green tea tiramisu with chocolate gelato. Both were good, with the pastry having a nice creaminess and the ice cream a deep richness.
Butterscotch cream brulee with a citrus ice cream. Also really nice and creamy.
Coffee ice cream with chocolate crunch. This was great too, probably my favorite. The crunch added a really nice texture.
Shave ice. Below are a couple balls of vanilla ice cream (very good vanilla ice cream), red bean sauce, and very finely shaved ice.
Then green tea sauce (or maybe just tea) is poured over it. In the end, a very interesting (and Asian) mix of flavors and textures.
The chefs at work back in our private room/kitchen.
This was probably the best meal I’ve ever had at Matsuhisa, and I’ve had a LOT of great ones. Because I’m jaded now, and used to the cuisine, it wasn’t utterly mind blowing innovative like the first time I ever ate here. But the cooking is as good here as it ever was. Nobu (and his sucessor cooks) still really know their stuff.