Dining: Nobu Doesn't Panic, Goes Organic
A visit with Nobu Matsuhisa, and a considerable entourage, at Waianae’s Mao Farm.
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On my way to the bar, sushi chef Ono hands me another course from the dinner, scallop tiradito. In the ’70s, Nobu had a sushi bar, his first, in Lima, Peru. Tiradito is what’s called Nikkei Peruvian food—a Japanese-style variation on ceviche which Nobu himself helped popularize.
This tiradito is scallop slices, each slice touched with Mao Farms Tahitian lime juice and a single cilantro leaf, then a bright red dot of sauce, made from those rocoto peppers Nobu wants Mao to grow. Subtle, subtle, subtle, accenting rather than diminishing the sweetness of the scallops.
Both these dishes, simple really, add up to more than a sum of their parts. Nobu has something of a magic touch—made up of one part precision, another part quality ingredients, and finally a willingness to let things be as they are, which makes the whole point of going to the farm crystal clear.
Customers have begun arriving for dinner. Nobu’s in the bar, uncomfortable in a lei, posing for pictures. He notices I’ve cleaned the plates. “OK?” he asks.
John Heckathorn has been writing award-winning restaurant reviews for HONOLULU Magazine since 1984.
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