Location: 22706 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA 90265. (310) 317-9140
Date: February 16, 2016
Cuisine: Japanese Fusion
Rating: Maintains it’s very high standards, and price.
My brother’s birthday again served as the occasion for some fine eating — this time sending us back to Nobu Malibu.
The various Nobus represent the corporate version of the Japanese-Peruvian fusion begun by Nobu Matsuhisa at his eponymous Matsuhisa (REVIEW HERE). While not quite as inventive as the original, the Xerox job is pretty darn good. Food quality is extremely high and highly consistant. The atmosphere is fun. The only deficit is the price, which is perhaps 40-50% higher than most similar restaurants, like say Takao (REVIEW HERE). And it’s not like these are cheap either!
The new location is really quite stunning. The outside is covered on 2-3 sides with couches and tables. Too bad it’s so cold along the ocean in Malibu, on all but the warmest of summer nights, even the heat lamps aren’t enough to make those girls in their little dresses comfortable.
I forgot to photo the menu, but I’ll discuss for a second as they have mixed it up, splitting many sections into two halves, “nobu now” and “nobu classic”. This is a nice idea as the kitchen has developed the theme considerably in the now section, but allows all those old favorites when you feel like it. I tried to lean “new” tonight (to good effect).
2006 Pierre Péters Champagne Grand Cru Cuvée Speciale Blanc de Blancs Les Chetillons. VM 95. The 2006 Brut Cuvée Spéciale Les Chétillons wraps around the palate and never lets up. Apricot, peaches, wild flowers, butter and spices all flesh out in a dramatic, structured Champagne endowed with tons of pure energy and volume. Stylistically the 2006 brings together the opulence of the 2002 with the minerality and cut of 2004, a great combination in my book.
Grilled Shishito Pepper with Sweet Den Miso. Nice texture and both sweet and a touch spicy. A big upgrade over edamame in my book.
Tai Sweet Shiso with Crispy Shiitake. Despite the almost outrageous $32 for the dish, the sauce and crunchy mushroom were amazing — certainly drowning out the red snapper. Really nice flavor profile and quite strong.
A Matsuhisa classic, Toro tartar with caviar and a miso ponzu. I’ve always loved the combo of the rich fatty toro and the acidic punch of the sauce. This theme of adding acidity to the fish is a consistent one.
Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Sauce. More classic. I’ve always loved these little fellows. Basically the normal Shrimp Tempura, but heavily sauced, and in smaller bite sized chunks. Addictive, but eat quickly before it sogs up.
1990 Robert Ampeau & Fils Volnay 1er Cru Santenots. 92 points. An earthy medium-to-heavy weight Burgundy, with tastes packed with tar, tobacco, forest floor, mushroom and dark cherry. The fruitiness has mostly disappeared, and is replaced by a solid backbone redolent of the grape’s mother soil. Worth drinking to experience the capabilities of a well-aged burgundy.
For the birthday boy, Warm Chocolate Souffle Cake. Matcha ice cream.
Banana Miso Bar. Milk Chocolate. Hazelnut. Coffee.
Hazelnut Cookie. Vanilla. Caramel. These were little ice cream sandwiches and really good.
Overall, the food is just like is always was here at Nobu. The atmosphere is stellar and it would be really cool to eat outside on a hot summer night (although they don’t usually serve dinner outside due to the cold). There must be an army in the kitchen too because the stuff appeared minutes after we ordered (except for the sushi). All in all, it’s a great experience, if a tad manufactured and divorced from its chef driven origins.
Service was excellent. We had a birthday, a young child, a gluten free person, and they handled it all nicely.
However, the chef du cuisine has been busy over the last 2-3 years, as the new dishes were plentiful and they really stood out flavor-wise. They still have that same basic technic of piling together sashimi, or tempura with various Peruvian / Japanese sauces, but the flavor profiles have broadened out, pulling in more eclectic elements for a lot of flavor punch. The Shiso Tai and Truffle Lobster really stood out.
Worth noting. Nobu is expensive. This meal for five adults was $650ish before tax and tip.