Nobu Portman Square Restaurant Reviews – Upscale Japanese Restaurant Already Feels At Home In Marylebone

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A peek at the new Nobu restaurant – note that the dining room continues behind where the camera is positioned. It’s big.

What can you tell us about Nobu Portman Square?

The fourth Nobu to open in London is also the third – mainly because it kind of replaces celebrity hotspot Nobu Berkeley Street. It closed earlier this year, but much of the staff have moved to this new, more chic space in Marylebone, which is also the second Nobu hotel in London. The road to openness was therefore more complicated than usual.

What if I had never been to a Nobu?

If you’re not familiar with Nobu, here’s the catch-up. The upscale Japanese restaurant is probably best known for being a joint venture between Robert De Niro and Nobu Matsuhisa that started in New York City in 1994. Since then it has grown into something of a global juggernaut and the restaurant it replaces, Nobu Berkeley Street, had a real reputation as a celebrity hangout and often had paparazzi outside. Will celebrities make the migration to Marylebone – this is something that will likely come after the pandemic.

Where is it?

Portman Square is about a five-minute walk from Marble Arch and Oxford Street. this is an area that has seen its fair share of high end openings, the most recent being Kol which is just around the corner.

roomAmerican Breakfast (£ 15) Suntory Toki Whiskey, Maple Syrup, Apricot Mash, Citrus Bitter and Yuzu and Ayacucho Martini (£ 17) Macchu Pisco, Clear Grape Juice, Apricot and Bitter Brandy Liqueur . Both great cocktails (and we love the extra touch on the martini stem).

And is there much more than the restaurant?

Yes indeed. Normally, we would take the opportunity to really check out the new hotel, but COVID restrictions at the time of writing have made that a bit more difficult to do.

For example, there is a wonderful new bar downstairs – but since you had to eat with every drink, it’s not a place where you can have a drink before your meal (on level 2 anyway). But when the restrictions do eventually ease, this bar and Kol’s mean the area has two very promising new bars – especially judging by the cocktails we had with our meal (above).

What about the restaurant itself?

First of all, it is huge, occupying what appears to be the entire width of the hotel. Based on the first floor, it also has wrap-around windows that will provide a distinctly different, more open vibe than the restaurant on Berkeley Street (and even the one in Shoreditch). It also means that A-listers will be able to sit by the window without being speechless (alas, no one famous was present during our visit).

The Covid spacing looks good – but it would never be the kind of restaurant with tables crammed together. Ultimately, it’s a lovely room – making good use of space while maintaining that Nobu vibe.

Tell us about the menu …

Just like the room, the menu is big. There are dozens of dishes to prepare – mostly broken down into classic and “now” dishes if you’re in the market for something new. Yes, the famous black cod miso is on the menu, but we chose to try a few dishes that we had never eaten before.

It’s Nobu, so obviously the prices reflect that – while they certainly don’t skimp on the quality of the ingredients, you’re paying for the whole “scene” as well. Here’s what we tried that night:

roomNobu makes tacos. These are king crab (£ 6.50) and tuna (£ 5). Small, crunchy and bite-sized but a great start.

roomScallop Kushiyaki with Teriyaki Sauce (£ 18.50). Essentially sticky scallop lollipops.

roomKara-age Soft Shell Crab with Ponzu (£ 14). A little more tempura than kara-age for us, but that’s not a bad thing.

roomYellowtail Jalapeño (£ 21) – this is a Nobu classic (and one of their most popular dishes). Wrap the tuna in rolls with the jalapeño pepper and cilantro inside.

roomWhitefish Sashimi Dry Miso (£ 18.50) – one of their most recent dishes and one of our favorites of the night.

roomTuna Tataki with Tosazu (£ 18.50) – another classic from Nobu. And when times are this uncertain, this is what you need.

roomBeef Toban Yaki (£ 23) – a sizzling glazed dish with yuzu soy sauce and clarified butter, served with shitake and enoki mushrooms with broccoli and asparagus.

Nothing else?

There’s also an extensive sushi and sashimi menu – with the sushi chefs taking pride of place at the premier sushi counter. When restriction is eased, grabbing a perch at that counter definitely seems like a good choice.

What about vegetarian dishes?

Thinking back on the above – we see that we haven’t made any veg overnight and, to be honest – seafood is a priority for Nobu. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a good selection of dishes suitable for vegetarians or vegans, from “Baby Spinach Salad Dry Miso”, “Vegetable Hand Roll with Sesame Sauce” as well as an entire section of vegetables from the menu with dishes like “Courgette Tataki Ponzu”, “Cauliflower Jalapeno”, “Mushroom Toban Yaki” and from the wood-fired oven, “Cabbage steak with truffle”.

And the desserts?

Fortunately, the dessert menu is a bit shorter than the rest of the menu, so it was easy to make the following choice:

roomChocolate Bento Box (£ 12) – a chocolate fondant with matcha ice cream. And this box really keeps everything from getting dirty when you get into the fondant.

roomGreen tea tiramisu (£ 11.50) –

How about drinking?

As noted above, the cocktails are excellent (all around £ 15 to £ 17 which is pretty standard for high end bars) and there’s a solid sake menu as well. The wine encompasses global varieties, sneaking in a few natural and organic wines along the way, with prices starting around £ 33 – but rising pretty quickly from there, going all the way up to £ 1,150 for a Bordeaux Bienvenue Batard Montrachet Domaine Leflaive 1998.

Global thoughts?

It’s a tough time to open a hotel – but as a restaurant Nobu already seems to be doing good business, gradually turning into a full bedroom on a weekday evening at the start of the week in London. The Nobu experience isn’t for everyone – but they do it so well.

The food is excellent, the staff in the Berkeley Street area are already a regular (our waiter had been with the company for over 20 years) and there is a palpable bustling scene there. Its location also seems much better suited to them than the Shoreditch Hotel – it all feels a lot more chic. If you’re up for a splash but want to go somewhere where you know what you’re going to get, this new opening shows they still have it.

Learn more about Nobu Portman Square

Where is it? 22 Portman Square, Marylebone, London W1H 7BG

How to book: Going through their website.

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @nobulondonportman

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