622 East Adams Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85004
Contact | 602.254.0600
It’s really nice to see culinary ventures outside of New York, because sometimes it’s simply more pleasant to be a unique fish in a smaller pond than to blend into the crowd in a big pond. If you take the time to look — and it won’t take very long — you’ll find a solid bunch of food gems in the Phoenix area.
One of those is Nobuo at Teeter House in the downtown heritage district. Parking is cheap and easy — such a luxury compared to dealing with where to put the car in our forays into Manhattan for dinner.
Their hamachi and grapefruit combo was also solid. It shows how something so simple can be good if you make sure all the inputs are of the utmost quality. Same goes for the yellowtail ceviche with crunchy fried shredded taro on top.
You can see the pattern by now, and ordinarily such hints of being a one-trick pony can be off-putting, but then you move on to the dinner entree portion of the menu and they’ll show you much more range.
I’ll just jump straight to the standout: a salad. They call it that, but it’s really a misnomer, since it’s really a luscious heap of rice noodles underneath a juicy panko-fried soft shelled crab — simultaneously soft and crunchy.
The best part is the way they seasoned it, dominated by a peanut-y flavor and actual chunks of peanuts. The nuttiness is surely Thai inspired, but whatever its origin, this Nobuo entree is one of the more inventive dishes I’ve seen and tasted in a while that doesn’t involve molecular gastronomy or some sort of gimmicky device.
The other main entrees were also a nice departure from their tasting-spoon appetizers. The tuna tataki was seared ever so slightly. The flavoring is pretty plain, but that great texture was the result of a lot of skill.
The brushstroke of deep magenta roasted-beet puree under the tuna was not just aesthetically pretty but more importantly added a great nutty taste to the tuna. I won’t go much into the lamb since the item sort of stuck out like a sore thumb on the menu — but it was nonetheless smartly prepared.
I should say all of this takes place in a quaint, cottage-like setting in the heart of downtown Phoenix in the heritage district.
There’s something serene about where this house resides despite its urban surroundings. Adams Street is lined with other houses similar in style, but then there’s also the towering modern science museum at the end of the block. Hopefully Nobuo is one of those lasting establishments that can lead the omasake charge in Arizona.