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Nobu Next Door: The Good ,Bad Ugly, Good

foodwhisperer | Jan 30, 201508:16 PM

Nobu and Nobu Next Door have been kicked and smacked by CH'ers for years.
Actually, I was one of the kickers. Yes, back in the day Nobu was considered an innovator, and then it got old and touristy. But
Here it is, so cold in possibly the windiest neighborhood in Manhattan, Tribeca.
You want Japanese food, preferably sushi or sashimi. Its the wrong time for Ichimura who only has 2 seatings (6 and 9) and is probably booked. Takahachi doesn't have the quality of fish you want. Ninja is silly. Azabu is booked, not in mood for Sushi Gari, Zutto not. And there it is , right in front of you , Nobu and Nobu Next Door. There was a time when you couldn't even think you would be able to get into Nobu or without a wait at Next Door.
Getting out of the freezing cold and eating Japanese food was the idea at hand. I peaked thru the window and saw Nobu was not completely full, then looked at Next Door Nobu and although it was even more crowded than Nobu, they did have 2 seats at the sushi bar. So we went in to once again try Nobu Next Door. The vibe seemed somewhat better than Nobu.
The Good:
It was very warm inside, felt so good. There was no coat check to be bothered with. The menu was pretty much the same , with a few new additions or specials. The fish looked good, the familiar good innovations of Nobu were still on the menu. Toro tartare was excellent. Off to a good start. Jalapeño Yellowtail, created at Nobu was as good as ever. It is still better than all the copies I've had. The "new style sashimi" is a really good dish. You get 6 or 8 pieces of slightly warmed sashimi with a sauce on it( some sesame oil in it), you have a choice of a white fish or salmon. I chose the white fish, i think it was suzuki. These two dishes were excellent. Then got rock lobster tempura in a creamy jalapeño sauce. It is a good dish to fill up on, it was a special and cheaper than the King crab tempura, which I usually get if I come here. A good belly filler. As if that wasn't enough tempura, we went on to get uni tempura, whih was accompanied by a pepper tempura and mushroom tempura. It was good as far as NYC tempura goes.
Then comes the sushi, the fish was very fresh. The knife skills of the sushi chef (s) were very good. We had hamachi, madai, kohada, Santa Barbara uni, ikura, and tamago.
The Bad:
Although the fish was fresh and the sushi composed properly. The rice was pretty bad. The rice kernels( are they kernels?) were hard. Distinctly feeling each dry ,hard kernel. This ruined the sushi. The temperature was pretty cold on the rice, and no vinegar taste at all. Good pieces of sushi ruined.
Had a dish that sounded interesting. Kumamoto Oyster and Wagyu jalapeño. The ingredients were great. I love oysters and love wagyu beef. But together it was not good. The tastes didn't go together. The slice of jalapeño was unnecessary, especially for me who ordered too many jalapeño dishes( not on purpose). I should have got an order of oysters, and the hot rock with wagyu, but I ate this, and it was a bad dish.
There was some problem in the kitchen, everyone standing around yelling about something. It caused a delay, in our lobster tempura coming out, but it seemed to be a big problem. The condition of the kitchen seemed old, and needed improvements made also.
The Ugly:
Pretty much the clientele. A lot of rolls being ordered for one thing. I guess it was a roll crowd. Yes, I ordered jalapeño yellowtail ( i was trying to blend with the crowd , haha)but that was a good dish. The people were either tourists or neighborhood people. Nobu was definitely tourists, Next Door was slightly less dressy people for the most part, but couldn't tell if they were tourists or Tribeca-ites. That is sad. Tribeca used to be "artsy" casual people . Now I can't tell the tourists from the neighbors. Really sad.
The Price. So Ugly, It was $400 for a party of 2. 2beers, no sake, no omakase. That is obscene.
The Good:
No tip needed for coat check :).
The service was friendly, excellent ( except for kitchen glitch), courteous, attentive, helpful, great. The sushi chefs and waiters were all Japanese ( a big plus for me). Nobu was a mixed staff. The chefs were sociable and nice and skilled.
The desserts were good. Had the good old bento box thing with the chocolate cake and green tea ice cream, Also had a really good yuzu panna cotta, with caramelized pistachios and blue berry compote, and blueberry coconut ice cream. It was delicious. The tea was a shiso tea. Nobu contracts this tea with a farmer in Japan, and this is the only place you can get it. It was tasty, and refreshing. You could smell the shiso, a bit of plum taste, and floralness. I didn't open the pot but i think they added shiso and perhaps more to the tea.
Photos of a few dishes attached.
So let me hear your thoughts about Nobu and Next Door. I think we pan it too much. I think it satisfies a craving for Japanese food, and the ingredients are quality ingredients. Hey, don't throw stuff at me, for praising the place. I just think it still warrants some recognition.

Nobu Fifty Seven,
Sushi Azabu,
Sushi of Gari,
Zutto Japanese American Pub,
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