A couple weeks ago, I was interviewed for the Phoenix New Times culture blog, Jackalope Ranch. I told them I wanted to start doing little restaurant reviews here and there, a sort of "what happens when stay-at-home moms who love food try being food critics." Well, nothing will hold you to your word more than having it in print... so, here goes our first restaurant "review"...
My daughter, Christine, had heard of this new Japanese-inspired restaurant, Nobuo at Teeter House, at historic Heritage Square. (For those not familiar with Phoenix, Heritage Square is a historic center downtown that houses other restaurants and bars, namely Pizzeria Bianco).
Nobuo was lovely. It is run by a sweet husband and wife team, working together to make their dream a reality. The food is "rustic Japanese classics with modern American inflections" and it was delicious. Many people may remember chef Nobuo Fukuda from his popular Scottsdale restaurant Sea Saw and his wife (who was also the hostess and our waitress) told us briefly about how Nobuo was born in Japan, but has been local to the valley since the 80's when he got his start at Benihana's.
I absolutely loved the decor and the way it complimented this charming historic home. The table settings and fine details were simple and perfect for the setting, as well as wonderfully original. We hardly wanted to unwrap the chopsticks as the napkins were so perfectly wrapped around them.
The menu offered so many deliciously tempting options, we could hardly decide. Ok, so maybe we didn't know what half the things on the menu actually meant, but we could tell they sounded delicious... and lucky for us, the chef's wife was our waitress and was able to walk us through it all. We started with two of their specialty cocktails to share. The Cucumber Shiso (vodka, rosewater, fennel and simple syrup) was light and refreshing, but the Devil's Haircut (chamomile-infused white rum, lemon juice, ginger, lemon grass, and honey) was our favorite... mmm, tasty.
From their small bites menu we ordered the Shishito Peppers, which were spicy and amazingly flavored and their Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad, which was the perfect summer dish (we have since tried to replicate it at home).
Next, we ordered the Shiromi Capaccio (ginger, yuzu kosho, sesame oil and garlic with house-made focaccia). This was amazing. They pour hot oil over the fish right at your table and they sizzle up on your plate. The flavors were beyond delicious and, as the waiter said, they serve focaccia with it, so you can soak up all the tastiness that is left. I highly recommend this dish (the people at the table next to us even asked what it was once they saw the presentation and had to have it for themselves). After much debate over the warm dishes (the Pork Belly Buns and Panko-Fried Soft Shell Crab Sandwich were also calling our name), we finally decided on the Coconut Curry Grilled Lamb (with mango and fennel salad) and the Okonomiyaki (seafood, pork pancake, okonomi sauce, aonoi, shaved bonito and Japanese mayo). They were both fantastic and we are already aching to go back to try more.
Now, we are no amazing food critics, nor do we pretend to be, but I have to say, I absolutely would recommend Nobuo to any of my friends (you all included) and family. The drinks were fun, the food was good and the atmosphere was lovely. It was an altogether fun evening and that is really what we moms all want, right? So, give Nobuo a try and let me know what you think. Have you tried any new restaurants lately that you would recommend in my neck of the woods or your own? I love hearing about restaurants in other cities that I might visit, don't you?