The Atlantis hotel is pretty famous. You may recall it from every Visit Dubai advert; you would have seen it on every Dubai postcard; you would have heard about it from every family visiting Dubai over the past 10 years. It’s enormous and ostentatious and popular, and I think that a lot of people like it for this reason alone!
Personally, I tend to prefer more boutique spots. However, when we visited the Atlantis on our recent trip to Dubai, it wasn’t to stay at this exuberant maze of a hotel. Nope. At this stage in my life it’s not quite for me (probably great for families though). We were there for dinner, and not just any dinner but to dine at the very famous Nobu. The first Middle Eastern outpost, Nobu Dubai was set up by the unlikely pairing of world renowned sushi chef, Nobu Matsuhisa and world renowned actor, Robert De Niro in 2008 to cater to the crowd of celebrities and luxury-seekers heading to the newly built Palm Jumeirah.
The restaurant is very pretty, with mood lighting, a large sushi bar, a gorgeous sake cocoon lounge and soft Arabic influences; it is quite a spot for contemporary Japanese dining.
We sunk into the atmosphere with a cocktail. For me, a fragrant spiced Thai mojito and for him, a Lychee martini. Whilst not our usual cocktails, they were a great refresher.
The menu is vast with lots of raw options (sushi, sashimi and tiradito), tempura, grilled and hot options. To start, I tucked into exquisitely fresh Yellowtail sashimi dressed with jalapeño, soy sauce and sake. The dressing was delicately spiced and a wonderful contrast to some of the bland sashimi I had tried recently.
Next up was octopus tiradito, one of my favourite of the raw dishes. It’s spicy, zingy and herby. The Doc found it overpowered with coriander but I loved it! The octopus was perfectly prepared remaining soft but with bite. I like coriander so this wasn’t an issue, but for those who find coriander “soapy” maybe sit this one out. But I absolutely loved it and will certainly be getting this again!
Next up was another sashimi, this time consisting of whitefish with dried miso salt, garlic chips and fresh chives. Another great option but not that distinctive from the yellowtail. I’d probably pick one or the other, based on your preference of fish; both are exquisite!
Our final raw option was the spicy tuna cut roll sushi served with wasabi and pickled ginger, which was no worse than other tuna rolls I’ve had but certainly no better.
Our tempura selection consisted of tofu and aubergine – it was a little bland but it acted as a good instrument to carry the spicy creamy mayo dipping sauce. At roughly £10 a pop, I thought they were overpriced for such bland morsels, and they, unfortunately, felt a little like an afterthought.
Our temporary disappointment was quickly forgotten when we were presented with sizzling mushroom toban yaki. One of my best friends, Gopi, is the biggest mushroom fan I know, she can eat them literally all the time and has been known to order them for her starter, main and side. I thought of Gopi as soon as this dish arrived because it’s one of the best mushroom dishes I’ve had. The plate consisted of audibly sizzling mixed mushrooms in a soy sauce. It was full of flavour, incredibly tasty and quite dramatic in appearance. Mushroom lovers, this one is for you. Gopi, I know you’ll be reading this and making that face you make when you’re hungry; this dish was designed for you!
We couldn’t go to Nobu without ordering the dish that it’s so famous for. The legendary black cod! Nobu Dubai’s black cod is a highlight for a reason; marinated in miso, honey and dashi it is a perfect balance of sweet and savoury. This is the most iconic Nobu dish and it didn’t disappoint! The soft flaking fish was tender and encased in a sweet, sticky, umami sauce. I loved the fresh apricot it was served with, which worked surprisingly well and so much better than I had expected. The fish was well balanced with lots of flavour without overpowering the delicate fish itself. This is said to be the original black cod recipe by Nobu Matsuhisa himself and all pan-Asian black cod recipes are simply imitations (or so we were told!)
Finally, one of the highlights of the meal was the crispy beef rice- with tofu, veg, seaweed marinated in Shiso – the bowl is heated for 25mins before the rice is added and then cooked with fresh Chilli, garlic and soy. This was the Docs favourite dish! Each bite blends succulent, tender meat with the crispest, nibbly “barbecued” rice from the hot dish. I couldn’t recommend this highly enough! By this point, we were pretty full so we took the fried rice as a takeaway portion as it was too good to waste!
To finish we shared a chocolate bento box, the chocolate fondant is presented in a beautiful Japanese bento box. The fondant itself is soft with a velvetty chocolate centre and served with creamy vanilla ice cream. It was a “nice” pudding; I say nice for a reason – I don’t usually use that word in my reviews… it was just that though. Nothing to write home about but it was a pretty usual chocolate fondant – nice!
As I grew to expect on my first visit to Dubai, the service was exemplary – absolutely faultless. Our waiter, Rizwan, was brilliant. As well as being generally professional, he knew all the dishes on the menu and clearly understood the complex processes behind the finished articles. I found that it really enhanced the experience by knowing about how the dishes had been prepared and he made me feel very comfortable to ask questions on the food.
My top tips if you’re going to Nobu:
– If you like octopus (and you don’t mind lots of coriander) – don’t miss the octopus tiradito
– Skip the sushi. Whilst it’s good, it is no better than anywhere else and you’re better off saving space for some of the more exciting dishes.
– Avoid the tempura!
– Order more of the hot dishes; they’re unusual, prepared to perfection and so beautiful in flavour! The crispy rice is a revelation that you mustn’t miss!
– Of course, get the black cod. It’s famous for a reason!
Once we finished up at Nobu, we took the opportunity to wander through the hotel, stumbling across the giant aquarium in the middle of the Atlantis! In the same way that the Nobu menu contained dozens of fish options, there were dozens of fish swimming around the massive glass tank. Typical of Dubai, as we reached the hotel entrance, we went from lots of fish to lots of Ferraris! On reflection, it’s a surreal experience worth trying, even if it’s to say that you’ve been to the world famous Atlantis hotel!
Nobu can be found at the Atlantis hotel on the Palm, Dubai. Link here.