Customer Reviews: Nobu: The Cookbook
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on February 19, 2002
I love the local L.A. Nobu restaurants (Matsuhisa and Ubon), and I enjoyed the book from a purely entertainment perspective. The photographs are beautiful, and I found some of the recipes to be fairly do-able. However, it is noteworthy to mention that quite a few ingredients are difficult if not impossible to find in the U.S., even at Japanese specialty markets (Nobu himself admits that he included recipes that have "many ingredients that can only be found in Japan."). These are interesting, but I don't make it to Japan often enough to be able to whip these dishes up for my dinner parties.
Another thing I found somewhat annoying was all of the Hollywood name-dropping the book is peppered with. I don't really care which celebrities have dined in the various Nobu restaurants, nor do I care what their favorite dishes are. The fact that Nobu once made lunch for Princess Di was equally unimportant to me. The thing I really appreciated was learning more about the quality and "kokoro" (heart) that goes into some of the dishes I've enjoyed at Matsuhisa. The book definitely inspired me to go and eat there again soon!
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'nobu THE cookbook' by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa is Nobu's first cookbook and as he has a new title on the bookstands now, I thought it was high time I got around to reviewing it.

For starters, I must say I rank photographic flash way down on my list of criteria for a good cookbook. I have very little use for cookbooks used to grace a coffee table, since I have no coffee table. So, If impressive looking cookbooks from famous chefs is your cup of tea, then this is an excellent book. Otherwise, it doesn't do a lot for me.

For starters, while the book deals almost exclusively with fish cookery and raw fish dishes, the introductory material on techniques, especially knife techniques is pretty thin. The story on sushi prep is that it takes years to learn everything you need to know about good knife techniques, and we are given but a half a page without even some pictures of the types of knives used in the three techniques described.

I will say that most of the recipes are relatively simple, as long as you have the right skills, but the ingredients for a lot of the dishes are somewhere between difficult and impossible to find. The poster boy for this state of affairs is abalone. Throughout my whole life, I have never seen fresh abalone available on the east coast fishmonger's counter. Now, I suspect this Pacific shellfish is endangered almost to the point of extinction. But, as Bob Kinkaid so eloquently says in his cookbook, high end restaurants can get things which are simply beyond the reach of the average shopper.

If this were a book on classic Japanese cookery, I would have a higher opinion of it, but it is a song to the virtues of Nobu Matsuhisa. It is a very pretty song, well graced with paeons from business partner Robert DeNiro, best bud, Martha Stewart, and about twenty testimonial blurbs from the culinary greats.

If your thing is good books on and about celebrity chefs, buy this book. But, if your interest is Japanese cooking in general, start with Shizuo Tsuji's 'Japanese Cooking, A Simple Art'.
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on November 5, 2002
While many of the recipes we have tried from this book have produced excellent results, it is not for the novice nor for the cook who cannot find exotic ingredients. We live in the San Francisco Bay area and must make special trips to the Asian seafood markets because the local grocer, although high-end, does not carry the exotic varieties of fish and shellfish that he uses. He does not offer suggestions for substitutions.
The food is very good, but you can tell that this is definitely a vanity cookbook. I don't think most home chefs could use this book - it is definitely for the obsessive foodie who would go to any lengths to prepare his recipes. Good for special occasions or for those who have a lot of time and resources for foods.
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on November 3, 2001
After sampling a variety of creations at Nobu-London, I was thrilled to receive this cookbook. However, in the hours between receiving it and reading it, I pondered the seemingly inevitable: I thought I'd be let down, and would discover a shallow book assembled by the Nobu marketing staff.
My passing qualms were misplaced, and I couldn't be more pleased. The writing is lucid, the book readable, the advice welcome and reasonable, the recipes clear, and the range of dishes exciting. Already, I've made 2 superb appetizers, and have a main course marinating in the fridge. Other dishes are to come. My spouse, a non-sushi-eater until a few years ago, has glowed about the dishes sampled thus far, and is anticipating many more soon.
This is not anybody's main cookbook (or even in the main set), but should accessorize any amateur chef's collection when in the mood for fusion food and inspired/inspiring combinations.
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on October 29, 2001
Exquisitely beautiful and destined for many joyful hours in the kitchen. This book is rich in stories that tie food to culture.
It is also filled with a treasure trove of easy to follow recipes. Having cooked my way through most of the book after many years of "guessing" the layers that make up Nobu's cuisine, I feel like I have been given wings.
This book provides a strong foundation in both ingredients and techniques but even more impressively it provides a fantastic tutorial on the principles of combining color, texture, and flavor.
The chapter on Nobu Sauces and Basics is well worth the price of the book. Don't just be seduced by the photography, this is a book that you can cook from!!! If you don't like your cookbooks dog-eared and oil stained, you may have to buy two- one
for daily use, the other for your coffee table.
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on September 27, 2002
This is more of a coffee-table cookbook; it has very high production values, the pictures accompanying the recipes are fantasitic (think Charlie Trotter) and the recipes are inspired and beautiful. However, the recipes include many ingredients (both primary and secondary) that might not only be difficult to find, but are also something you just WILL NOT cook on your own. (e.g. Whole baby squid? Sea eels?) This cookbook deserves five stars for its beauty and creativity, but only gets three stars for its actual practical use. Your best bet is to check it out for yourself at your local bookstore, and then (of course) come back here to Amazon and buy it.
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on February 18, 2003
I am a big fan of Nobu's art; a miraculously simple, yet greatly inventive Japanese-Peruvian cuisine.
This book gives a representative sample of what Nobu's is capable of.
- RECIPES: step-by-step, easy to follow, and do not require sophisticated equipment. The pictures are nice and self-explanatory. In fact, Nobu's trademark dishes (New Style Sashimi, Tiraditos and Ceviches) are quite easy to reproduce with little effort or time. The only reason why I did not give this book a perfect mark is that I felt some sauces missed the mark, as if they were lacking an ingredient (my Matsuhisa Dressing trials greatly differ from the one I tasted in Nobu's restaurants). Plus, on rare occasions, the editor fails to specify which type of vegetable oils must be used (ex: in the spicy creamy sauce).
- INGREDIENTS: many are easy to find in North America. Some are almost impossible to acquire if you do not live in a major city (for example Maui onions, sansho, etc.). Nevertheless, most of these ingredients can be successfully substituted with more common ingredients; for example, Menegi for Chives, Yuzu for lemon and lime juice, Monkfish liver for Duck or Goose Foie Gras, and so on.
Like other viewers, I couldn't care less if Kenny G., Gandhi or Rasputin have been Nobu's clients. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this book for all novice cooks and food lovers.
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on March 2, 2006
Kodansha's corporate big wigs are Nobu fans so when he chose them to publish his first cook book, they decided to match the quality of the book to the quality of Nobu's ingredients. They used an eight colour separation process (absurdly expensive) for all the fish pictures, and try as you might you can't really see the dots that compose the image, at least not without a magnifying glass.

Nobu's aim is to proudly lay himself open to his public. He doesn't fear revealing his secrets because he's confident enough to know his style and character are unique to him. He wants to inspire amateur chefs.

Here are three of the simpler dishes that anyone could make.

1) Sea urchin in a shiitake mushroom cap, wrapped in steamed spinach, served on an egg sauce with a spoonful of salmon roe

2) Asparagus topped with salmon roe

3) Steamed monkfish liver with caviar

As the saying goes, the media is the message and the pictures actually help the amateur chef no end. With the superb pictures that accompany the recipes, you can execute these dishes almost from the name of the recipe alone. Without the pictures, you can't.

One caveat. Nobu is a name dropper. I've no doubt that Robert De Niro, Martha Stewart, Ken takakura, and Linda Evans really are his friends but he mentions famous names too often for my taste. On the other hand when I went to Nobu Tokyo during Nobu week, he was there and toured the dining room. He stopped by our table and signed a copy of his book for me. So he's not too proud to smile and have chat with us rabble; he really likes his customers.

Vincent Poirier, Tokyo
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This is a intimidating cookbook when first opened. It's source is one of the world's renown chefs and the cuisine shall we say is one that most of us don't have access to (all of the exotic seafood: eels, abalone, etc. and sushi).
However, there are many dishes which one with access to fresh, high quality seafood and basic chef skills can achieve some success with. I've had raves over the Grilled Scallops with Tabbouleh Salsa as well as Baked Monkfish Medley with Tosa-Zu and the Lobster Salad with Spicy Lemon Dressing, Green Tea Parfait.
High level cooking with fusion of Japanese and other cuisines. Beatifully composed and produced with wrap-around photos of brilliant color. Inspiring book to challenge one's menu with this creative, famous cuisine.
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on November 4, 2002
I bought this book because it is one of the only cookbooks I have found to contain recipes for Monkfish Liver (Ankimo), which I have frequently been in search of. I haven't tried any of the other recipes, although anyone who does must be prepared to go on some serious hunting missions for some hard-to-find ingredients. Also, I too was put off by Nobu's shameless name dropping-- why do Kenny G, Madonna and other celeb quotes get more of a spotlight than Ducasse, Keller and other major chefs? I could care less if DiCaprio sometimes indulges his petit frame with--count it--TWO PIECES OF SUSHI instead of ONE!!
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