Oh dang, if my dad was still alive to see me now, he just may have passed out. As a youth, I was what some refer to as a finicky eater and literally ate maybe five different staples without question, well three really. If I watched someone cook and there seemed a questionable item, there was no way I would attempt to acquaint my taste buds with such flavors or textures. My father would attempt to get me to try sushi or many other dining options at the various restaurants he took me too, but I would realize the menu type, then think of my minimal list. In this case, I would have attempted to find teriyaki anything and raw preparations outside of salads would be a hard no. Somewhere in the last fifteen years my sense of adventure took over my palate and there has been no looking back.
My entry into the delicate and divine world of sushi was at Hana Japanese Restaurant, a local gem in Rohnert Park, California. It was here I would initially swoon for the texture and flavor of otoro, the highly desired fatty bluefin tuna belly. This would eventually lead me to one of the best dishes I have had the pleasure of enjoying, the toro tartare at Morimoto, Napa. This dish was served as part of the Omakase tasting menu that we indulged in for the new year a few months after the restaurants initial opening. We felt extra fancy as David Beckham and Gordon Ramsay sat behind us with their wives and children. I have been back to this restaurant a few times and always make sure that the toro tartar is part of my menu choices. I generally like to pair this dish with the Copain Wines rose when it is available on the wine menu because I can be comfortable that the wine plays well with other items on the Omakase menu, should I choose a tasting menu over individual dishes.
In the beginning of the year, for my husband and my collective birthday dinner, I chose PABU Izakaya in San Francisco, which is part of the Michael Mina empire of delicious restaurants. It is here I discovered the dish called the Happy Spoon. At this location, the oyster is presented with uni, ikura, tobiko and ponzu creme fraiche. I can say that the variety of textures and flavors on the varied iterations I have tasted at this and other restaurants is a joyful dance upon the palate. So, to the topic of this article, the only place left on my immediate bucket list for Japanese fare was Nobu. For the years of following Vegas Uncorked I would see offerings from lunch to dinners with a glimpse into the magic of Chef Nobu. For those that say they are hungry after small plate courses, I am unable to relate. I actually had to take small bites and share a few of these dishes with my husband as I was beyond satiated at the conclusion.
This year the Master Series lunch called Beyond the Blade with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa was decided as a not to be missed event when we finalized our Vegas Uncorked itinerary. Quite honestly, we decided the prior year we would attend any Nobu option, should it be offered. As we waited in line we ran into some lovely ladies we met last year at the brunch with Giada (read that prior post HERE) and enjoyed catching up. Upon entry to the restaurant we decided to sit together for the dance of precision we were about to witness. Greeted by a lychee martini our friend wished she could bathe in; we were salivating with anticipation. Our new Vegas Uncorked friends had experienced this event in prior years and the fact they returned was noted in my memory as I recalled dietary preferences from last year. Yes, I have that kind of memory. Names, not so much in my wheelhouse. Faces, more my skill set. I also have an uncanny memory of flavors too, but I have fallen off track.
As the chefs began their preparations in front of us, Chef Nobu discussed his view of sushi and how one should enjoy these dishes freshly and promptly. With intense focus and quick movements each individual plate was created then delivered to each person at the table. My only sadness was that the dishes arrived in a more rapid pace than I was able to notate. First dish, first sake and with that being said I will proceed with photos.
As lunch concluded, we were gifted a polite box of chocolate and the second we saw the packaging we knew it was from Le Belge, a chocolatier in Napa, California. We’re fans, what can I say. So grateful to have enjoyed this whirlwind feast we were suddenly happy that we decided to forgo the Grand Tasting event this evening in order to attend a Cirque Du Soleil show instead. This way we could walk off all those bites we consumed. We may have gone back to our suite to enjoy a little nap since I had slept lightly the prior evening and I laughed as this was a first for me. Napping is a foreign concept to me, but this one had me feeling refreshed in the evening and ready to enjoy a show. After the show we decided to peruse Mandalay Bay’s shark exhibit as I had always wanted to see it. Full of food, I must have appeared to be delicious to the piranha because they all eerily stared at me. Creepers!
As I entered the room with rays and jellyfish, I may have begun to sing the Sponge Bob theme song as I viewed the jellyfish. That induced a giggle from my husband, but we do enjoy a daily laugh even in the oddities. Later, as we entered the final shark tank my tune changed to one that my niece enjoys…any guesses. Yup, Baby Shark. I may have got a few giggles from others as this jingle passed my lips quietly.
All silliness played in my mind as we began our return to our room, we had a quick snack on our way, then off to rest up for the next day’s brunch. I found the days unplanned ending full of swimming fishes sickly humorous considering the beginning of the day dining on seafood. I do love a good shark steak! Sorry to my more squeamish readers.
Sake full cheers to under the sea!
Next up: Vegas Uncork’d 2019 Day 3 – Getting Baked for Brunch with Christina Tosi