I will concede I walked into the lobby of the Nobu with a preconceived notion of what it would be like. I was pleasantly surprised to find a warm, inviting and relaxed space, with a staff compliment just as warm and inviting.
I don’t consider myself a Japanese food aficionado but like everyone else I have been to my fair share of Japanese establishments. Wait… no nori, no rice; nothing rolled, shaped and moulded on the menu was my retort. What followed though was a culinary journey bordering the sublime and a range of wines perfectly matched and complimentary.
Louis Strydom (Winemaker and MD at Ernie Els Wines) struck a chord with his opening salvo when he said something to the effect that wine and enjoying wine is such a subjective thing and that you either like the taste or not, irrespective of the price tag. Feeling quietly vindicated I was ready to immerse myself into this experience.
The menu was indeed intriguing seeing as I had never been, we were anxious but still excited.
Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Tuna Hot Miso Tacos
Salmon Karashi Miso & Yellowtail Mango Salsa Duo
Ernie Els Chenin Blanc 2016
Beef Tataki with Ponzu
Ernie Els Rose 2016
Beef Fillet with Balsamic Teriyaki
Ernie Els Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Pork Belly with Spicy Miso
Ernie Els Proprietors 2013
Ernie Els Big Easy Sweet Spot
If I had to be asked to describe the pairing for the first course, it would be “Fresh”. Tuna Hot Miso Tacos paired with the Ernie Els Sauvignon Blanc, light and crisp slightly citrusy, cubed tuna in crispy taco shells.
Our second course was the Salmon Karashi miso mustard like condiment used in Japanese dishes) and Yellowtail Mango Salsa .This unassuming and seemingly simple dish served up one of the surprises of the evening. A delightful berry, no bigger in size than an olive and similar in look and texture called Yamamono (Japanese mountain peach). Slightly tart and sweet simultaneously, this little gem is often used as a palate cleanser and proved to be quite the topic Accompanied by the Ernie Els Chenin Blanc, a familiar easy drinking wine
The next course was the Beef Tataki with ponzu. Very delicately seared beef, cut into slivers similar to sashimi accompanied with ponzu which is a soya based sauce with slight citrusy undertones. To say this beef was soft and tender and literally would melt in your mouth is an understatement. The Ernie Els Rose 2016 was used as accompaniment, slightly sweet for my personal taste but ably managed to counter balance the soy/citrus ponzu.
What came next was the Beef fillet with the balsamic teriyaki. Any” Real” South African will find this dish hard to fault, well prepared beef with a full-bodied, bold Cabernet Sauvignon …all the essential food groups covered.
I unashamedly love pork belly to death, so it is with bated breath that I waited patiently for this course to arrive and boy was it worth the wait. Fulfilling all the essential requirements, a crispy rind with tender and soft flesh that dissipated as soon as it landed in your mouth, accompanied by the star of the show for me, the Ernie Els Proprietors Syrah. Masterfully made with only the best fruit, handpicked, as it should be.
The evening was closed off with a Suntory Cappuccino dessert, a delicate combination of cappuccino mousse and Suntory Whisky. Suntory, A Japanese brewing and distillery company established in 1899 one of the oldest in Japan. I attempted to illicit the recipe from the chef, but he responded with a toothy grin…I don’t think I’ll be getting it.
In conclusion, an amazing evening with even more amazing dishes. One would be hard –pressed to find fault, if only to make an excuse just to do it all over again.
Blog post contribution by Mario Arendse.
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