Luxury is what comes to mind when describing the newly opened Crown Casino on Sydney’s waterfront in Barangaroo. With staff at the front waiting to greet you as you enter the marble foyer and even an usher for the touch less elevator (ideal considering the current Covid situation) the venue is all class. The complex has a number of dining establishments that we are keen to visit, and we made our first booking to Nobu.
Nobu is an internationally well known fine dining Japanese restaurant developed by world renowned Chef, Nobu Matsuhisa. There’s 42 restaurants around the globe and Sydney is the third outpost in Australia (Melbourne and Perth). We were excited to try their unique and creative Japanese dishes.
As we leave the Crown foyer, we take the elevator up to Nobu restaurant and are greeted by the front of house staff who take us to our table. Nobu is divided into two sections, the first dining room much brighter, a huge light filled space, modern design and a stunning outlook over the harbour. This room also houses the bar and DJ. We are led into the second section at the back of the restaurant is has more Japanese inspiration to its decor and a very large rock sculpture above the small bar. The boulder, an interesting piece, the surface of this giant rock a canvas for the ever changing light in the room. It also has it’s own open sushi and sashimi bar where you can see the chefs preparing your food.
Throughout the experience from start to finish, we can’t recall ever seeing so many staff members per diner at restaurant, all very well presented, and applying Covid safety measures. When we arrived, there were 3 staff at the entrance checking your details and showing you to the table. In our dining room which had about 30 diners, I counted 20+ staff at any one time including the sushi chefs, but more to follow about the service, later.
The restaurant has only been opened for a week and with both being new and so many staff the service was not quite organised and it felt like it wasn’t clear to them whose role was whose. We also weren’t sure who was following up on our questions (when food was delayed) or who was the key waiter to order the drink or ask for the bill. We hope this will be sorted out in the coming weeks.
As most do, we like to start with a drink and they have an extensive drinks menu with a number of cocktails and a variety of wine and spirits. There is a range of beer, although pretty generic. We were looking to order a cocktail to start and there were a few that excited us. Unfortunately half of the cocktails were unavailable (with no mention of why). When trying to order a whisky with dessert we were then advised some of those weren’t available, so we asked why. Due to the opening being so close to Christmas and the New Year, as well as issues with imports due to Covid, they hadn’t got their order yet. This would have been to know on arrival. Perhaps re printing the drink list until they are re stocked might make it easier for the confusion with customers. Being a whisky enthusiast, the Nobu Japanese Sidecar was my choice, however this was unavailable and I asked the to produce something similar and they did so obligingly. The side-car they delivered to the table was pretty good, I feel they could have just adapted and served the unavailable cocktails on the menu with some alterations, instead of just saying they were unavailable. There was also a pregnant lady in our dining group, who still wanted the enjoyment of a cocktail with out the booze, the staff accommodated this request well, with a passionfruit concoction. She absolutely loved this.
We were of course visiting for the food and decided on a few starters so we could sample a range of their offerings. We begun with a seafood ceviche which was quite tarte. Having sampled lots in our travels, it could have been improved with some added sweetness. We also ordered some nigri, Ama ebi which was a beautiful fresh prawn and a tomago (egg) nigiri, also very nice. We also ordered a hand roll each, the Jalapeño and yellowtail was excellent, the flavour of the Jalapeño worked well and they managed to remove much of the heat.
For the mains, there’s plenty of hot and cold options, classic and Nobu ‘now’ dishes. Sushi rolls, sushi maki, tempura, soup and rice, snacks, tacos and skewers.
We had heard good things about the miso cod and this did not disappoint (which, at $60, it wouldnt want to). The cod is marinated for 72 hours, the flesh so soft and flaky, you needed the serving spoon to serve separate portions, trying to serve portions with chopsticks was futile, as it the fish would fall apart. The flavour is incredible.
Though we feel the less talked about umami Chilean sea bass was just as good, if not better. The fish has the same texture, but served with a unique umami sauce, onion and shards of saffron. At $48, this is better value than the cod. We should comment that the staff must have initially forgot about this one, since we had to query where it was three times when it hadn’t arrived 40 minutes + after all the food. Lucky it was worth it.
For dessert, the Nobu ‘Now’ menu has some unique dishes; their take on a pavlova, cheesecake and matcha fondant. We ordered the ‘Whisky Cappuccino 14’. A small cappuccino cup filled with a coffee brûlée, vanilla ice cream and whisky foam. This was awesome, somewhat like a tiramisu. They also have classic Nobu desserts so we’re sure there’ll be something up your alley.
The menu has a huge offering with so many things that it is easy to be pleased. Despite our criticisms here, the food is incredible and we would certainly return, for the opening teething issues with organisation are expected to be rectified.
FYI consider your dining group and booking time, for the DJ gets increasingly loud (from 6- 9pm we visited) and almost hard to hear your conversation by 9pm.
Level 2/1 Barangaroo Ave