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September 16, 2014

Irasshaimase

At some stage between being a child and reaching adulthood, birthdays and their accompanying celebrations seem to fall out of favour with many people. As a child, your birthday ranks way up there with Christmas. The parties, the cakes, the games and the gifts. Birthdays are a real highlight of a kid's life. Then, people become adults and all a sudden, birthdays become just another day. Not a reason to celebrate, and for some not even a reason to commemorate or acknowledge. I'm not saying this is entirely exclusive to women, but my fellow ladies are prime culprits when it comes to tiptoeing past a birthday, as if it's almost a shame that we should find ourselves celebrating another year of life. It's a universal truth that each year our ages clicks up one notch for all of us. Growing older should not be something we shun or spurn. If we are not getting older there's only one other alternative and that alternative does not appeal to me at all.

As a devotee of the birthday, mine is one I look forward to each and every year and I probably spend the six months prior planning my celebrations. According to my superannuation fund, this year's birthday was a "life event" being that I left the departure lounge of my twenties and moved into the next decade. In super fund world this means I can increase the coverage of all my insurances without the need for any medical assessments, but in my world this means celebrating on an even bigger scale than usual.

The main celebration for my birthday (yes, I did celebrate more than once) was a dinner party with my nearest and dearest at Nobu Perth

The birthday girl in her birthday dress
For functions outside of the main dining room of the restaurant, Nobu has two private dining rooms available for the exclusive use of your party. Although the one room would have accommodated everyone, I'm not fond of squishy environments so I chose to book out both rooms. The rooms are decorated simply but elegantly, to which you can add your own personal touch, and overlook the pool area with a balcony for the dastardly smokers. Assigned with dedicated and attentive waitstaff, it is the perfect venue choice for a special occasion.


If you've not ever been to Nobu, you may not know that upon arrival all of the staff greet you with an enthusiastic shout of "irasshaimase!" which is a traditional Japanese greeting, generally upon arrival into a place of business.  My first time at Nobu, it was somewhat startling but now when dining at other Japanese restaurants I have noticed they also greet their customers in the same way.


The chefs at Nobu have put together a few different function menus, but of course I had to create my own. Being familiar with the menu, I chose my favourites and a couple of dishes I'd yet to try but had always wanted to. With so many standout dishes it was hard to choose but I got there in the end, deciding on the scallop tiradito, kelp salad, soft shell crab and watermelon, pork gyoza, black cod miso, chicken kushiyaki skewers, creamy spicy crab and the pork belly. If that sounds like a lot of food, it was especially when taking into consideration that on the night we were mistakenly served an additional dish that was not on my menu. By the end of the night, were were stuffed and sewn up.


The order in which we were served was cold dishes followed by the hot dishes. Starting on a perfect note was the scallop tiradito. Very fresh, sweet and tender scallop meat cut with amazing precision served with a tangy citrus dressing that was cut through with a bite of heat from chilli. It was spectacular and some of my friends told me that this was one of their favourite dishes of the night.


Another standout dish was the soft shell crab and watermelon, which at the time was only on their 'secret' menu but has now been included on the restaurant's dining menu. Generous portions of deliciously seasoned and crispy soft shell crab and cubes of watermelon were served with a sweet, salty and spicy sauce that was similar in taste to the Vietnamese dipping sauce nuoc cham. It seems like a strange combination to serve soft shell crab and watermelon together but it worked exceptionally well.


As simple as they were, the pork gyoza were very moreish and I happily downed a few. This was probably my downfall as I went in hard at the beginning so toward the end I struggled. The black cod miso is one of Nobu's signature dishes and unfortunately being served toward the end it was impossible to enjoy too much of it, but it was as I knew it to be. A tender fillet of cod that flakes into layers at the touch of a chopstick, it's a must have dish if you're at Nobu.


The creamy spicy crab is a richly flavoured dish that packs a significant amount of heat. Not anywhere near the level of heat that I can manage, but it is spicy and not a meek and mild heat that is just labelled as being spicy. Fish roe is incorporated throughout the dish; I love the little bursts of roe between the teeth and it makes for a good textural addition to the overall very smooth and creamy consistency.


The pork belly which was served on the night was not how I remember it, even though it was the same pork belly as I have had previously at Nobu. The pork belly I remember was paired with a sticky caramel, that was both sweet and spicy in flavour. This flavour combination seemed to be missing from the caramel and instead I got the overwhelming taste of ginger which sat atop the pieces of pork belly as a garnish. The pork was very tender but devoid of the crisp crackle that is probably one of the most enjoyable aspects about pork belly.


The chicken skewers were a last minute addition to the menu as I was concerned that the dishes I initially had chosen would not be enough. Simple skewers of chicken meat that were strongly flavoured of black pepper, I enjoyed these the least and would have happily done without them, from a perspective of enjoyment and also because the food ended up being very substantial so it really was not needed.


A bonus dish was served on the night, that being the prawn tempura which was intended to be served to the function which was held in the main dining room but was mistakenly brought to the private dining rooms. At the time this came out I was not in the room so my friends tucked in, oblivious to the fact that it was not meant for us. Generally I don't enjoy or order tempura but this was very enjoyable as the tempura batter was not excessive and the prawns were doused with a fiery sauce which further added to the taste and enjoyment.


Our waitstaff that evening provided exceptional service. They were never too far to take our orders for more drinks (the lychee martinis are crazy good) but at the same time they were not hovering around and allowed us the privacy that you essentially are seeking when you decide to book a private dining room. 

Party favour #1 - cassette tape USBs for my mixtape!
Party favour #2 - keeping with the Japanese theme, hand made pencils wrapped in washi paper. I do love a theme.

Great food and drinks, even better company, it was a memorable evening and was exactly how I wanted to celebrate my birthday. I enlisted the help of my cousin, who in a past life was a DJ, to put together a mix tape of thirty of my favourite songs. These were one of the party favours I gave out and also served as the backing track to our evening. I get a kick out of the thought that I am the first person, and quite possibly will be the only person, to have NWA's Straight Outta Compton boom through the speakers in the dining room of Nobu.

Birthday cake made by Flavia at Sugarplum Sweets

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