sexta-feira, 11 de abril de 2008

Nobu: The Cookbook

Excruciatingly chic to the highest degree, the playground of film stars and supermodels, the restaurants of the Nobu chain are among the hardest to get into on three continents. They are the personal inspiration of a Japanese sushi-trained chef, Noboyuki Matsuhisa, who, with unusual experiences in Peru, Argentina and Alaska behind him, was fortunate enough to open an establishment in Los Angeles into which part-time restaurant entrepreneur Robert de Niro happened to wander. During those years on the Pacific coast Nobu had begun to experiment, combining the pure, fresh, uncomplicated flavours of sushi with the Western flavours of garlic, chilli and coriander. As his clientele moved upscale, these were complemented by luxury ingredients such as truffles and caviar. Nobu the Cookbook represents the current state of play. Exquisite, expensive and breathtakingly stylish, this is food designed to impress with its artful simplicity. Perhaps the two most representative dishes are the most celebrated: the "New-Style Sushi", in which dressed raw fish is given a sizzling dressing of hot oil; and the beautiful "Black Cod with Miso", marinated in sake, mirin and miso for three days then grilled and baked and served with a single ikebana-like spear of pickled juvenile ginger.

There are aspects of this cooking, however, which for all its glamour may require the turning of a blind eye. How many home cooks will be prepared to disembowel a live octopus (rather more challenging than dropping a lobster into boiling water)? And eyebrows may be raised among environmentalists at Nobu's championing of Arctic sea bass, a fish known before its cosmetic rechristening a few years ago as Patagonian toothfish and which is likely to become extinct within three years through illegal overfishing in the southern oceans. Food for thought

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