Nobu’s Offspring Still Know How to Party
There was a time when there was only one Nobu, on Hudson Street in TriBeCa. When it opened in 1994, it was the first restaurant outside Los Angeles to offer Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s startling new liaison of sushi and other Japanese food with Peruvian flavors. The herds of imitators were still to come.
If you wanted to try raw yellowtail in ponzu under a green jalapeño wheel, or fried rock shrimp shimmering with spiced mayonnaise, or broiled black cod in miso so sweet it might have been maple syrup — and for a few years it seemed as if that was all anybody wanted — you either went to Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills, Calif., or you went to Hudson Street.
Now you can eat Nobu ceviche in Dubai, Budapest and Cape Town. If you want Nobu sashimi salad for dinner followed by a night in a Nobu hotel, you can do that in Marbella, Manila, Miami or Palo Alto. When the United States Space Force establishes its first lunar base, the generals and majors will no doubt find a Nobu there, with tuna tataki on the menu and a line three-deep at the bar.
This is because after the success of Nobu in TriBeCa, Mr. Matsuhisa and his partners made a strategic decision. The food would stay roughly the same — more on this in a minute — but the surroundings would grow bigger, boozier, louder, more theatrical. If Nobu did not exactly invent the Asian Party Temple restaurant genre, it certainly drew the blueprints.
At these new Nobus, Mr. Matsuhisa’s food was still a major event, but not necessarily the main event. And the question was not just whether you felt like eating at Nobu but whether you felt like being at Nobu. The Malibu location in particular has a reputation for intense good-time vibes that can drive away customers who merely want to eat.
All this was encapsulated for me in two brief scenes from my recent meals at Nobu Downtown and Nobu Fifty Seven. The first episode took place while I was sitting at the sushi bar of Nobu Downtown. This location, inside the old AT&T tower on Lower Broadway, is theoretically the successor to the first Nobu; it opened last year a few weeks after the original closed. The sushi bar was the heart of the TriBeCa restaurant. The chefs behind it prepared or touched at least half the food, and seats there were so coveted that during the 1990s, when even celebrities complained about how hard it was to get in, a mostly sushi restaurant called Next Door Nobu was opened simply to contain the overflow. (It closed last year, too, and won’t be replaced.)
這一切都濃縮在我最近在紐約Nobu下城店和Nobu 57吃飯的兩個簡短場景中。第一個場景是我坐在Nobu下城店的壽司吧前。這家店位于下百老匯老AT&T大廈里，理論上是第二家Nobu餐廳；去年，在最初的Nobu關門幾周后，它就開張了。壽司吧是翠貝卡店的中心，至少一般的菜品是吧臺后的廚師們制備或經手的。那里的座位是如此炙手可熱，以至于在上世紀90年代，連名人們都抱怨很難進去。當時開了一家以壽司為主的餐廳“隔壁Nobu”(Next Door Nobu)，就為了分流應付不過來的顧客。（此店去年也關門了，不會有新址。) 紐約時報中英文網 http://www.zvkdrb.live
At Nobu Downtown, the upstairs sushi counter is on the far side of the cocktail bar that the design firm Rockwell Group slipped in among the enormous fluted limestone columns that fill the building’s ground floor like a petrified forest. I had just eaten a piece of Japanese scallop sushi with a dangerous streak of wasabi when an animated group of four new arrivals appeared next to me. The sushi chefs eyed them warily, because they appeared to intend to cluster around a single stool, the way people do at a bar. Soon it became apparent that they thought they were at the bar. But the people they mistook for bartenders were all busy slicing raw fish, so eventually the group moved on to look for somebody to make them a drink.
Moments like this didn’t tend to happen at the original Nobu, but they do bring Nobu Downtown in line with Nobu Fifty Seven. In business on 57th Street since 2005, Nobu Fifty Seven is another two-story proposition. Between 5 and 7 p.m. its ground-floor lounge acts on young Midtown professionals like the fishing nets evoked by Rockwell Group’s design. At the time the second scene took place, the bartenders looked as if they were struggling not to get caught. My cocktail, a Negroni-esque thing with sake in it that was ferried to my upstairs table from the downstairs bar, was neither shaken nor stirred; it was, in fact, almost hot.
在最早那家Nobu通常不會出現這樣的時刻，但是在紐約Nobu下城店和Nobu 57確實會。兩層樓的Nobu 57從2005年開始在57街營業。下午5點到7點之間，它的一樓大堂對于中城的年輕白領來說就像漁網一樣——羅克韋爾對這家店的設計也令人想起漁網。到第二波客人進店時，酒保們看起來好像在努力不被客人抓到。我的雞尾酒是種類似尼克羅尼(Negroni)的東西，里面有清酒，從樓下的吧臺被送到我樓上的桌子上。它既沒有搖，也沒攪；事實上，酒幾乎是燙的。
While I was waiting for the cocktail to be cooled by its single ice cube, a server was struggling to open a bottle of Champagne for a table of at least 10 men next to me. When the cork came out, he managed to spray the room in a manner usually seen in the Super Bowl champions’ locker room. Everybody nearby got a little wet, including me and my guests, but nobody seemed to notice.
當我在等待雞尾酒被里面唯一的一塊冰冷卻的時候，服務員正努力為我旁邊坐著至少10個男人的桌子打開一瓶香檳。當軟木塞出來后，他把酒噴了一房間，就像是在超級碗冠軍更衣室里開瓶一樣。附近的每個人都有點濕，包括我和我的客人，但似乎沒人注意到。 紐約時報中英文網 http://www.zvkdrb.live
Servers at both addresses have the brisk, well-drilled, impersonal and slightly numbed quality that comes of waiting on hundreds of people a day. At Nobu Fifty-Seven, one told me, “Our menu is kaiseki style, so it’s like tapas. Everything is meant for sharing.” I must have looked confused because he added, “Some dishes are going to be bigger than others.”
Nobu Fifty-Seven was given three stars in its last New York Times review, by Frank Bruni in 2005. That’s what Ruth Reichl gave the original in 1995. After three recent visits to each location, I decided that, apart from minor menu variations, any qualitative difference in the food between the two branches is too subtle for me to make out.
上一次《紐約時報》點評Nobu 57時，弗蘭克·布魯尼(Frank Bruni)給了它三星。1995年時，露絲·雷克爾(Ruth Reichl)也給了第一家Nobu餐廳同樣的分數。在最近去了每家分店各三次后，我認為，除了小的菜單變化，我看不出兩家分店在食物上任何質的區別。
The chefs uptown are Taku Sato and Matt Hoyle. Downtown was led by Ricky Estrellado and Ryo Hasegawa until June, when Mr. Estrellado died suddenly. His successor has not been named. Both kitchens are models of superior ingredient shopping and consistent performance. When those classic Nobu dishes appear, they will be exactly like the last time you had them. In the case of the mayo-bathed fried shrimp, that may not be an entirely good thing. And I still think the flavor of the caviar that crowns tuna, or salmon, or yellowtail tartare gets elbowed out of the way by the wasabi-soy sauce.
在上城的廚師是卓江佐藤（Taku Sato，音）和麥特·霍伊爾(Matt Hoyle)。下城店之前是由里奇·埃斯特雷拉多(Ricky Estrellado)和長谷川亮(Ryo Hasegawa)主管，但埃斯特雷拉多在6月突然去世。他的繼任者尚未公布。這兩個廚房都是高檔食材采購和一貫優秀表現的典范。當那些Nobu招牌菜出現的時候，它們會和你上次吃的一模一樣。對于沾滿蛋黃醬的炸蝦來說，這可能不完全是一件好事。我仍然認為金槍魚、鮭魚或黃尾韃靼魚子醬的味道會被山葵醬油蓋過。
But the tiradito, slices of yellowtail squirted with lemon and yuzu juice, then dotted with puréed rocoto pepper, is always wonderfully bracing. The candylike black cod is as hard to deny as ever, even if the extra sweetening Mr. Matsuhisa gives this traditional Japanese dish strikes me as somewhat shameless. The sashimi salad and the lobster shiitake salads are both better than any salad from a global chain has the right to be.
I don’t know who orders the dishes marked Nobu Now, but I tried a few. Umami Chilean sea bass: not worth it, even for the slightly exotic return of a fish that hasn’t been seen much since the ’90s. Kumamoto shooters: a thrilling series of flavors that will recall the way you felt the first time you ate at Nobu. Michele Goldsmith’s desserts, served both uptown and downtown, are modern and playful and don’t try too hard to follow the theme, whatever that is.
Over the years, the Hudson Street Nobu became something unusual, a restaurant that could serve tourists and families from around the corner with equal aplomb. But a meal at Nobu is still among the best, although not the cheapest, ways to introduce children to raw fish. And sitting at the sushi bar can still provide the intimacy that the rest of the place lacks. The chefs behind the counter may not draw the kinmedai cultists who flock to Sushi Zo or Sushi Ginza Onodera, but they know what they’re doing, and they light up when they get a customer who can tell.
多年來，哈德遜街的Nobu店成了一個不尋常的地方，一個可以用同樣泰然自若的態度接待游客和街坊四鄰的餐廳。但在Nobu吃飯仍然是最好的選擇之一，雖然這不是讓孩子們初嘗魚生的最便宜的方式。在壽司吧吃飯仍然可以提供其他地方所缺乏的親密感。吧臺后面的廚師可能不會像Sushi Zo或Sushi Ginza Onodera那樣，吸引著專程來吃金目鯛的小眾愛好者，但他們是在行的，當他們見到一個認得的顧客時，總會格外欣喜。