I’ve found myself eating out a bit lately, mainly due to a combination of me being sick of sandwiches for lunch and being a bit lazy to cook for dinner. Last Friday I found myself in two different places: Bobo Noodlehouse for lunch and Nobu’s for dinner.
Actually this was my takeaway portion (looked better in store!)
Bobo’s is located at the intersection of Skinker and Pershing Ave. It’s styled as a hip joint and feels a little out of place compared to the surrounding area (which is a student neighbourhood). I have been here a few times, but each time I’ve always felt a little bit disappointed with the food.
One thing I like about Bobo’s is the decor. The interior is designed to be minimalist yet chic. It feel conducive to conversation and a place to relax. Compared to other restaurants I have encountered in the US, Bobo’s has a different flow. You place your order and pay as soon as you step in, then take a number and sit down. The service here is good and generally friendly.
As its name suggests, the menu here is mostly noodles, although you can get a few different appetisers and salads if you prefer. For the noodles, you can have them done in pho style (noodle soup), fresh with grilled meat or wok fried. I haven’t tried the pho yet – the St Louis summer weather is not conducive to eating hot soup! – but I have tried a few dishes off their wok/grill menu. Rather than being true Asian cuisine, it is perhaps more accurate to describe the flavour at Bobo’s as an east-west fusion. It’s Asian food, but cooked for a western palate.
This time around, I had the cashew chicken which was served in a nest of crispy noodles. Unfortunately, the dish looked much than it actually tasted. I found the sauce too salty and too sweet. The noodles felt a little bit undercooked – I would have preferred them less chewy and a little more crispy. The chicken was dry. It felt a like it had been boiled in the wok rather than fried. While the portions here are generous, I also felt that the price was a little steep. For my dish, I was charged $12.10 although I did not have to tip (since you pay before you sit down).
Overall, Bobo’s is a nice place to eat but I still found myself let down by the food. The balance of flavours, so essential in Asian cooking felt a little off. I don’t know, maybe Americans prefer their food this way but I would prefer half the amount of soy sauce and sugar.
Service: 4/5 (Efficient for the few minutes it takes to place your order and to get your drinks).
Would I recommend? Maybe, but request that less salt and sugar be used.
Bobo Noodlehouse is located at 278 N SKINKER BLVD ST LOUIS, MO 63130.
In contrast to Bobo Noodlehouse, Nobu’s establishment lacks the chic decor but it more than makes up for that with its superb food. As soon as we stepped in, we were greeted by the hostess who seated us at the sushi bar (the rest of the restaurant was full!). Although the shop could do with a spruce up, the atmosphere was relaxed and convivial. From our seat, we got to watch Nobu himself prepare the sushi.
On the recommendation of a friend, I ordered the soft shelled crab, which was served as tempura style (battered and deep fried). The portion here was surprisingly large. Apart from the crab, you got a few pieces of tempura vegetables, shredded radish (daikon) and rice, which was more than enough to fill you up. We also ordered a small bottle of sake, which was served warm and dry. Although it was the house variety (and therefore the cheapest), the sake tasted good and left no aftertaste – all in all an adequate companion to the crab.
The service here felt quite personal. We struck up a conversation with the hostess, asking her about the sake that they served and whether there was a Japanese bakery in town (I’ve been craving some anko-pan which is a red bean paste filled pastry). She was very friendly and even drew us up a map to the nearest Korean bakery (“but taste like Japanese!”). Other patrons seated around the bar were also engaged in a lively banter with Nobu.
Overall I really enjoyed my meal here. It’s the first time I’ve been to Nobu’s but I definitely felt like it deserves another visit. It’s a little out of the way for me so I will have to suggest this place next time I go out with friends!
Ambience: 3.5/5 (the restroom is a little interesting – the stall door is so short you can look over!)
Would I recommend? A hearty yes!
Nobu’s Japanese Restaurant is located at 8643 Olive Blvd, St Louis, MO 63132.