The zen sophistication of a table in the Nobu Garden
While I wouldn’t exactly say I’m a fangirl of chef Nobu Matsuhisa, I do make it a point to dine at his restaurants during my travels. It’s always interesting to see what remains consistent on the menu and how the experience varies in the context of different locations and cultures.
When I learned there was a Nobu Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai, I thought dinner at Nobu would be a great introduction to dining in the UAE on my first (and only) night in town. After several straight days of curries in Sri Lanka, I was jonesing badly for yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno.
Nobu Atlantis The Palm is located right near the The Lost Chambers aquarium, which made it geographically desirable considering I wanted to maximize my one night in Dubai.
The Nobu sake lounge is a glamorous space. A DJ spins here some nights.
Rough luxe touches add to Nobu’s accessible luxury. It’s not over-the-top, it’s sublime & sophisticated.
The Nobu Dubai space was beautiful and had the same open stylishness that the Rockwell Group designed team has ensured all Nobu restaurants have. The level of high end brand consistency is truly impressive.
My husband and I first sat down in Sake lounge and enjoyed a round of Lychee martinis (a blend of Absolut vodka and lychee juice) which went down so smoothly we ordered another round while nibbling on edamame (boiled soybeans sprinkled with sea salt).
The lychee martini might not be the prettiest drink, but it’s really tasty
By the time we were seated for dinner, the lychee martinis had kicked in and we were chatting up a storm with our Hawaiian-born waiter, Kris, who had been imported from Nobu’s Waikiki location and is spending two years working in Dubai.
While the man-made island of The Palm Jumeirah in the middle of a desert is worlds away from the Aloha spirit of Kris’ native Oahu, he seemed to be handling the transition well. He admitted arriving in Dubai after 30 hours of travel late on a July night was daunting at first, he told us once you figure out how things work in Dubai and learn to respect the culture, they treat you with respect and it’s a fascinating place to be.
Thinly sliced and buttery in texture, Nobu’s signature yellowtail sashimi is always a winner
We first asked Kris to point out things that were special on the menu, and he said that the French-born Chef du cuisine, Herve Courtot, had added a hot dish of dover sole in truffle papillotte that was a huge crowd-pleaser. We decided to try it (it was the standout of the evening). Kris told us that culturally, the diners in the UAE weren’t as comfortable as Americans to eating raw sushi and sashimi, so there more cooked dishes present on the menu than at the some of the other Nobu outposts. He also told us that a few of the staff were alumni of other Nobu restaurants, which made the staff very international and a good fit for Dubai’s cosmopolitan and global scene.
Left: salmon tacos were one of the bite sized delights on the menu Right: A shrimp tempura cut roll
Chef Courtot’s dover sole in truffle papillotte was the standout discovery of the night
A few of the dishes were slightly different in presentation. The Wagyu beef tacos were truly bite-size in Dubai, unlike the same dish at Nobu locations in London and the US where they usually take 2 bites to get through. But the taste was spot on and delicious. The yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno– a Nobu signature that no other restaurant seems to be able to touch, was delicious and hit the spot.
Zen Rocks in the Nobu Garden
This being Dubai, there are also a couple really special features. They aren’t the most over the top options, but they work for Nobu’s sophisticated clientele. The new Nobu Garden– al fresco dining with a stunning view of the Dubai skyline in a zen atmosphere– was an unexpected and magical discovery. It was quiet and beautiful outside on warm March night, it was absolutely enchanting. If you visit Dubai when the temperature is pleasant at night, I’d highly recommend requesting at table in the garden.
Nobu means seriously sophisticated sushi & sashimi but there are plenty of cooked options
You can even book your dinner (or high brunch) at Nobu Atlantis The Palm directly from their website.
The Ladies Room Signage at Nobu Atlantis The Palm
The biggest difference I noticed at Nobu Atlantis The Palm was the modestly dressed iconography on the door of the ladies room. All the other elements of Nobu Dubai made it fit right in as great dining experience and a really fabulous place to try sushi and sashimi if you’re not familiar with it. But if raw isn’t your thing, there are plenty of cooked dishes and a really helpful staff on hand to make sure you have a great dining experience.
Editor’s Note: I had no idea when I was ordering dinner at Nobu that this post would be generously sponsored by Atlantis The Palm Dubai.