Nobu, Hyde Park Corner
A few weekends ago I took Rob (half Japanese and a big lover of his native food) to the famous Nobu on Old Park Lane for lunch as a treat. I was excited but also a little nervous about the prices since Nobu is not only known for its impeccable Japanese cuisine, but also for its rather extortionate prices. As soon as I arrived I decided to just stop worrying and enjoy it. So I did.
Nobu was buzzing as we arrived on a bright autumn Saturday in October. Families chatted loudly (some place to take your 3 year old for lunch), while well-dressed couples shared mouth-watering sushi platters. The crowd was very international – two Greek ladies sat to our right and a Scandinavian couple sat to our left.
The advantage of going for lunch (or for a ‘pre-theatre’ dinner at 6pm) is that you have the option of choosing the Bento Box. For a not unreasonable £35 you get a selection of small dishes, beautifully presented in a large Bento Box. And this includes the famous Black Cod, which is one of the dishes that has made Nobu so renowned. The waitress praised our order and warned us that there was no need to order any more food, since the Bento Box would be more than enough. Rob wanted me to try the sea urchin sashimi – a delicacy in Japan (and apparently also an aphrodisiac) and so we also ordered one portion of that (for a whopping £8).
I’m glad we ordered the sea urchin. It had a very particular taste and texture, very creamy and thick. I could understand why it was a delicacy but could not have had more than half of the tiny piece we were presented. Definitely not something for an every day lunch.
I was very impressed by the Bento Box. First we were served a filling miso soup (which put my Itsu regular to shame) and then the box arrived. The size of the portions in each ‘section’ were generous. The Black Cod was good, but perhaps did not quite live up to the hype as much as we had hoped. My favourite was the salmon sashimi – so fresh and light – and perfect with a mustard dressing. The sushi was good too, as were the tempura prawns. The Bento Box is the perfect thing to order if you want to try a number of different dishes without spending an absolute bomb (each individual course – while of a larger portion – is at least £20).
I could barely finish the Box – so the waitress was right about it being very filling – and I almost felt uncomfortably full as we left the restaurant.
And the bill? Not half as bad as I had expected, though beware of the 15% service charge they whack on (admittedly the service was excellent).
Bottom line? Go for the Bento Box if you want to eat at a world famous restaurant without breaking the bank.
1st Floor, The Metropolitan Hotel
19 Old Park Ln, London
Tel: 020 7447 4747
Please note the Bento Box is available at lunch and for a pre-theatre 6pm dinner only.