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D.C. Diners Wonder if the Wait for Nobu Was Worth It

“It takes more than over-priced food to get DC people coming back for more”

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Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Global phenomenon Nobu joined the D.C. dining world September 12 in the tony West End, offering a mix of meticulously honed Japanese-Peruvian cuisine.

The iconic brand chef Nobu Matsuhisa co-founded decades ago in New York City has since spread all around the world. Although perhaps best known for its expertly assembled sushi, Nobu is actually a family-style gathering place where sharing dishes is highly encouraged.

Hit menu dishes that have stood the test of time and appear on the menu in D.C. include: yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, rock shrimp tempura with spicy cream sauce, and black cod marinated in miso.

Read on to hear what the public is saying, just a few weeks in:

The Beefy News: Instagrammer @kevculdesac says, “If you haven't been to the new #NOBU in D.C., you must go. The Wagyu is always to die for.” And @bycoastalfood says beef skewers “have a perfect flavor! A little sweet, a little spicy, and a little savory. Nobu for the win, as always.” [Instagram]

The Not As Good as Others News: Yelper and self-proclaimed Nobu regular (says he’s visited other outposts from New York to Miami) bills the ambiance in D.C. as “simply too plain. Music was too low, didn't have a good vibe, What is up with the DISPOSABLE CHOPSTICKS!!!???? Really?” And Yelper Cynthia J. labels her experiences a “big disappointment. They gave us a water down Nobu when compared to Vegas, Malibu and NY. It takes more than over-priced food to get DC people coming back for more.” [Yelp]

The Knockout News: Yelper Hannah H. says, “The rock shrimp tempura was as delicious as I remember it being ... the yellowtail was fresh with a nice little kick from the sliced jalapenos, and the cod was delicate. Service was attentive, and our experience was laid-back and relaxing!” [Yelp]

The Fishy News: Yelper MC L., who says she ordered a variety of dishes, declares that “Everything was fantastic. The Sea Bass was a tad bit fishy, but it [sic] the best way possible. Their house whiskey was fantastic and the wine was spectacular.” And Yelper Nabiha C. says, “The black cod just melted in your mouth.” [Yelp]

The Pretty Pricey News: Yelper Stephany C. says, “It's a really nice elegant place but very pricey and the dishes aren't very large, but are intended to be ‘family style.’ The plates serve about 2-3 people where everyone gets about 2-3 bites each.” And Sam P. warns, “Our bill was $127 and we had one appetizer one entree and 4 tiny tiny mini tacos that wouldn't fill a newborn and two non alcoholic drinks.” P C. says, “Yes, Nobu is expensive. But the food was absolutely delicious.” [Yelp]

The Classy Design News: Blog Hospitality Design notes that the 250-seat restaurant is “punctuated with seating vignettes that evoke traditional Japanese influences as well as contemporary design. White oak and stone will balance the millwork details, while intricate shoji-inspired sliding doors and custom architectural lighting will elevate the environment with understated sophistication.” [Hospitality Design]

The Booze News: Instagrammer @stephaniemdc says she had a “delicious” cocktail “and so were the 10 or so courses afterwards.” Yelper Lisa M. says there’s “great quality food and cocktails that is up to par with the Nobu in Vegas, Los Angeles, Malibu & Manhattan.” [Instagram, Yelp]