Obon Bisutoro, a Japanese bistro specializing in sushi and ramen, officially opened its doors in Phoenix’s Biltmore Fashion Park in late March. I was recently invited to the restaurant – the third Obon concept in the Valley – for its soft opening.
Walking into the dimly lit restaurant with complimentary Champagne in hand, I was amazed by the flawless interior design. Wood paneling is a signature décor element present in Obon’s two sister restaurants in Scottsdale – and the new eatery’s caramel-colored wood panel ceilings and juniper-hued wooden walls match the modern rustic aesthetic we’ve come to know from Obon.
Obon Bisutoro offers a seemingly endless drink menu consisting of craft cocktails and wines from various regions throughout the world, but my companion and I took the non-alcoholic route and ordered ginger beer – organic, fair trade and local ginger beer from Big Marble, to be exact. The lightly sweet, carbonated drink took me by surprise when that spicy ginger kick hit me at the end of my sip. While I enjoyed this effervescent treat, I would have loved to see more non-alcoholic items on the menu.
Obon Bisutoro explores the Japanese hard charcoal grilling method known as “robata,” and is the only Obon location where you can get these unique grilled dishes. The robata provides a savory, smoky aroma and crispy exterior to each dish. We ordered the cremini mushroom in a soy compound and the Japanese sweet potato with miso butter. The cremini mushroom melted in my mouth like a perfectly grilled steak with an earthy, meaty flavor. The Japanese sweet potato was a medley of sweet and woody notes from the robata. Both dishes were paired with a lemon wedge, which elevated the flavors of both dishes.
Next was sushi: I ordered the confit enoki/zucchini nigiri, which was crunchy and flavorful. A thin thread of zucchini was keeping the sushi together, which didn’t work. As I picked it up, it all fell apart, but it was one of my favorite dishes of the night. The next sushi I ordered was the maki crab roll. The flavors were mild, and the crab overpowered the roll, but it was very fresh.
For the main dish, we ordered dashi gyoza and garlic fried chicken. The real star of the gyoza – five crispy dumplings swimming in a dashi broth – was the house-made sweet and sour sauce. The broth was so delicious, I almost picked up the bowl and drank it. The chicken was visually pleasing and very filling. The smells of star anise, clove, and chile perfumed the table when it was brought out. The bite-sized crunchy chicken was a bit salty but that didn’t stop me from eating the whole plate.
For a sweet finale, we shared a matcha raspberry tart. The creaminess from the matcha mousse, the tartness from the raspberry jelly, the airiness from the meringue and the subtle sweetness from the blueberry dusting made me want to come back to Obon Bisutoro just for dessert.
With new ways of cooking, attention to detail and an elevated dining experience, Obon Bisutoro is a welcome addition to the Biltmore Fashion Park.
Obon Bisutoro, 2502 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 520-591-1193, obonsushi.com