nobuo at teeter house
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Nobuo at Teeter House
November, 2010, Page 142
Photos by David Moore
Panko-fried soft shell crab sandwich
Superstar culinarian Nobuo Fukuda is back with cuisine-defying creations. Bring an appetite and a sense of adventure.
Is it a surprise to any Valley diner who ever lifted chopsticks to lips that the new Nobuo at Teeter House is a hit? Because if you love Asian food, you know who chef Nobuo Fukuda is.
Still, there’s always room for evolution, and that’s what Fukuda – a James Beard Award winner in 2007 – has done. As with his other restaurants before, he wows fans of authentic Asian fare. But now, his Nobuo at Teeter House entices even people who don’t know sashimi from a sandwich, in the form of an izakaya (a casual, small-plates Japanese pub) that emphasizes creative drinking and reasonable prices.
This is a more relaxed time for the chef, and in perfect step with a tighter economy. When we first met the highly personable, Tokyo-born Fukuda, it was 1999, and he had opened an Asian lounge inside the former Restaurant Hapa of Scottsdale. The Valley had never seen the likes of his dishes before – eclectic Asian-fusion “tapas” paired with wine, champagne and sake.
His latest creation, Nobuo at Teeter House, opened in July. The cozy feelings embrace as soon as you step into the cleverly adapted, historic Victorian-style brick teahouse in Downtown’s Heritage Square. Fukuda transformed it with paper shades and sheers on the windows, noren curtains, and bonsai plants tucked into wall-mounted branches as art.
Chef Nobuo Fukuda prepares grapefruit and hamachi
Depending on where you sit, the experience varies. The tachinomi room has snacks ($5-$6); the two dining rooms feature more intricate shareable plates ($5 to market price, usually under $20); while the weathered wooden tasting bar invites imbibing and will showcase omakase for just four diners at a time ($60 per person and up – at press time, Fukuda had not yet rolled out omakase).
For all that’s new, there are some popular standards, including seasonal specials like a summery toss of watermelon, goat cheese, mint and yuzu layered like a sundae in a glass ($6). There’s the beloved hamachi ($12), four generous slabs folded around grapefruit and avocado, dashed in white truffle oil, tucked in spoons and gorgeous with a Kung Fu Girl Riesling ($7). House-cured salmon ($10) is another familiar friend, but start with whole, char-grilled shisito peppers ($6) topped in bonito flakes so feathery thin that they actually wave as the heat contracts the smoked fish. Fiery and nicely salted with soy, they’re addictive nibbles; pair them with a Basil Julep ($11), made of whiskey, fresh herb and angostura bitters. Then try the Kumamoto oysters crowned in rich uni under a splash of tomato water and wasabi oil ($12).
ebi salad with grilled shrimp and rice noodles
For a heartier bite, warm duck salad ($12) splays a half dozen soy-Zinfandel-glazed slabs over a mound of grilled greens in a drizzle of yuzu vinaigrette. The whole, panko-fried soft-shell crab ($8) in a sandwich was delightful, but after a few bites we abandoned the heavier homemade focaccia for the clean crunch of cucumber and kanzuri (chile yuzu) aioli alone. Dessert offers compelling, uncommon treats such as yuzu sorbet ($4) or kasutera ($6), a dense sponge cake topped in passion fruit curd.
means “cheers” in Japanese. For this intriguing eatery, let’s lift a glass again for Fukuda’s success.
inside Nobuo at Teeter House
Nobuo at Teeter House
: Asian Fusion
: 622 E. Adams St., Phoenix (Heritage Square)
: Lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; tea 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; dinner 5:30 p.m. to close, Tuesday through Sunday
: Hamachi ($12), house-cured salmon ($10), Kumamoto oysters ($12), soft-shell crab sandwich ($8), sponge cake with passion fruit curd ($6), steamed pork buns ($8)
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