An Evening of Japanese Culinary Excellence at Nobu Doha:
The world’s largest Nobu restaurant, within a tri-level structure covering 26000 square feet, Nobu Doha is located on the private shoreline of the Four Seasons Hotel Doha although it is open to both residents and visitors. Built on a corkscrew design, Nobu Doha allows diners to have elevated views of the coastline, in a space with high ceilings and a feeling of openness. Nobu is a restaurant everyone raves about, so when Endamia Decour, the PR Director of the Four Seasons Hotel Doha, invited me to Nobu Doha in Qatar, it was too good an opportunity to miss.
We were greeted with a Pepino mocktail – Cucumber Purée, Lychee Purée & Fresh Lemon, served in a traditional cocktail glass. A great start to the evening, allowing us to mingle informally and relax before the meal, a rare achievement for a top end restaurant.
Although Qatar is a ‘dry’ country, alcohol can only be served in 5-star hotels and restaurants, while Nobu Doha has a great wine list, they also have an amazing selection of mocktails and other non-alcoholic drinks. The team was happy to match any of the non-alcoholic drinks with the food, so non-drinkers had as much choice as regular drinkers. Many of the mocktails, including the Ryu Punch (Dragon Fruit, Lemon Squeeze, Elderflower, Soda) which I tried, had incredibly delicate fruit flavours, so you could still enjoy the exquisite flavours of the food. Nobu Doha has clearly mastered this part of the menu.
Nobu Doha houses seven stylish and entertaining dining places, from indoor private areas to the rooftop terrace lounge, and can seat over 400 diners. However, the layout is carefully designed so that it always feels open and airy. That, combined with the sea and shoreline views, allows for both a sense of intimacy and space. Most tables are circular, allowing both odd and even numbers of people to sit facing each other, which in turn encourages conversation.
For those that want to, you can sit at the Sushi Bar and watch the chefs as they work their magic in the kitchen. Watching as they cut, trim and prepare has an almost magnetic attraction. Our table was further away in the main dining area, allowing the dishes to be served to us as surprises, without needing to see the skill and training each chef has to make the dishes.
Famous around the world, the must-try dish at Nobu is the oven baked Black Cod steeped in sweet Miso. However, assuming we knew this dish already, the chef decided to show us some of the other dishes that highlight the Qatari influence on the Japanese food, and the range of dishes and styles available. As such, the tasting menu below was better than anything we could have expected, and a pure joy to share.
So here is the Chefs Tasting Omakase
- Chu-Toro Sashimi with Negi Goma Jalapeno Jelly Caviar
- 4 Ways Sashimi. Yellowtail Jalapeno, Botan Ebi New Style, Octopus Tiradito, Sea Bass Dry Miso
- Lobster Kohlrabi Dry Miso
- Sushi Selection. Tuna Sushi Wasabi Zuke, Sea Bass Sushi Shiso Salsa, Salmon Sushi Yuzu Truffle
- King Crab Miso Butter
- Omi Beef Ishiyaki
- Blood Orange Lollipop
- Frozen Chocolate Mousse
The Chutoro is the part of the tuna found near the skin on the back and belly. It combines the sharp flavours of the Akami with the sweetness of an Otoro and is such an expensive delicacy that it is only usually served on special occasions. Talk about starting a meal with a real wow!
With 4 small plates together, you may be tempted to try a bit of each and compare, but the correct way to eat them is in a specific order so that each dish builds on and complements the flavours of the previous one.
If I was forced to choose, this was my favourite dish. Lobster tail was sliced and infused with miso so carefully that it still maintained that unique lobster flavour. The garnish on the top is sliced seared tofu and was as delicate as you would expect.
When eating sushi there is an etiquette that you need to follow. If you need to dip your sushi into the soy sauce, only dip enough to just taste the sauce, and don’t let it soak up too much. The best way to make sure that happens is to only dip the fish in the soy sauce, never the rice. And, you should never eat the ginger with your sushi. It is there to be eaten on its own between each piece of sushi. With 3 pieces of sushi, we had 3 pieces of ginger.
Crab doesn’t come any better than this. If you like the picture, the taste was even better.
The Omi Beef Ishiyaki was served alongside stone hotplates, one per person. Similar to a raclette, it allowed you to cook the meat to your exact preference. It takes practice, most of us seemed to overcook it, trying to balance getting the fats to melt before the meat was cooked through.
Desserts arrived with a mix of icecreams and fresh fruits atop an iced bowl with hidden underlighting. A clever trick, it focussed attention on the large dessert bowls a talking point which pulled us all back together from our individual conversations to share a common moment.
The final course, the Frozen Chocolate Mousse, was more perfectly constructed artwork. The crumbled chocolate, mixed with crushed honeycomb, sat on what can only be described as chocolate ice cream ‘frost’. It was, without doubt, the lightest ice cream I have ever had, with all the flavour you can imagine. Combined with a marbled bowl, it felt like you were eating pure magic as all the senses were being stimulated.
To end the evening, we moved up to the upper lounge terrace to see the lights and just enjoy the spectacular location. Being late at night, the humidity and heat was tolerable, and made more so by the iced Sake we were served. Nobu has a good range of high-quality Sake, and its Hokusetsu Sake is imported exclusively for Nobu from Sado Island in Northern Japan.
This was a wonderful night and an amazing meal with good company. My thanks to all at Nobu Doha and my hosts Endamia and her colleague Hassan at the Four Seasons Hotel Doha who provided great conversation and useful insights into Qatari life.
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We were guests of the Qatar Tourist Authority
Four Seasons Hotel Doha