NOBU: Japan meets Peru in the kitchen

One of the treats we looked forward to on this trip to Vegas was our reservations for Nobu Restaurant at Caesar’s Palace.  We had read reviews, perused the menu and had high expectations.  We still were wonderfully surprised by our experience.

 

The décor screamed hip and elegant when we walked into the restaurant.  As the hostess led us to our table, she clapped and called out a mantra that raised a like response from the sushi bar and kitchen.  We learned that this was the staff’s way to say Welcome to Nobu.  True to their promise, the combination of expert service and delicate dishes made us welcome for the evening fare.

Our first selection was the raw scallop preparation.  Served in the scallop shell, the chili paste, cilantro and lemon added to the raw scallop made bright, fresh sensational small bites. The scallop was delicately sliced and fanned out around the shell for easy sharing.  For a moment, I was concerned that we had made a mistake starting with the scallop because certainly nothing could match the taste that jumped straight from the ocean.

 

Then the lobster taco arrived.  A small, single bite taco, the rich, buttery lobster meat was accentuated by a slightly spicy jalapeno sauce and a seaweed garnish.  The seaweed garnish, while edible, was the only thing that appeared on any of our plates that was primarily decorative; as our server explained in advance, it had no flavor but there was probably some nutritional value.  But the taco was a mind bending combination of richness and flavor that would have forced the Mona Lisa to show teeth in her smile.

 

Next we tried the rock shrimp, served with a creamy jalapeno sauce over a bed of greens.  The tempura batter was so light as to be just perceptible, giving the dish a healthy fried appeal.  The jalepeno sauce was bright and a little bit spicy, just enough to leave a slow warmth building up on the back of the tongue as the shrimp disappeared.  The shrimp was perfectly cooked in the tempura style; perfectly cooked through and stopped without the slightest chewiness.  The greens and sauce were delicious, but this dish was clearly about the tender rock shrimp.

 

Our server told us that the miso glazed black cod was Nobu’s signature dish.  We had heard the “signature dish” pitch many times in many places, with varying degrees of delivery.  I tried to look through our server’s eyes into his soul as I asked him, is it really worthy?  His eyes danced and he chuckled, promising that no one had ever been disappointed with Nobu’s black cod.  His perfect record is still intact.  The sweet, delicate, buttery fish melted on our tongues, the miso glaze a perfect second fiddle to the headliner cod.  But as if to say not to be too complacent, a ginger shoot provided a rush of pucker power that said this plate is about balance, not just sweetness.  When we go back to Nobu, the black cod will definitely be one of our choices.

 

After sharing 4 plates, we were satiated but not stuffed, which was an added bonus because the dessert choices looked too good not to try.  We settled on the miso tart, adorned with a preparation of dolce de leche, Buffalo Trace whiskey, white chocolate and shortbread.   Every ingredient was our friend and the combination created a dessert party.  The dish had the sweetness, bite and crunch that satisfied the need for sugar, texture and comfort to end a great meal.

 

And if you thought there wasn’t more, the Nobu bar was a showstopper.  We tried a smoky Saki that lingered in the throat like a backyard charcoal grill.  A special whiskey sidecar with Japanese whiskey, yuzu, and a Spanish liqueur was smoother than the traditional sidecar with lemon juice, proving that the ingredients really matter.  The wine list was exactly what we wanted, with plenty of selection at different price points and by the glass and half bottle selections.  We were happy to splurge on the half bottle of Salmon Billecart Rose champagne when we saw it on the menu, knowing that we were saving tons of money on the trip by not having to pay for hotel rooms and getting a free plane ticket on each leg of the trip.  For an added bonus, we were able to use our Total Rewards card to accumulate more points when paying for our meal.  On our last full day in Vegas, we used our Total Rewards cards to get two breakfasts comped at the Paris buffet and a discount on our dinner at Old Homestead steakhouse.  It’s important to remember to use the Total Rewards affinity cards when dining at any of the restaurants at the Caesars’ properties as you can save lots of money on future meals, allowing you to step up your enjoyment while you experience perhaps the finest selection of restaurants anywhere in the country

 

 

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