Monday, January 21, 2013

Small Portions at Nuba

Nuba on UrbanspoonI'd been curious about Nuba for a long time, and finally made my way down there on Friday with a few foodie friends. The menu is mostly vegan, but that's if you go by the online menu. We went to the Gastown location, and the menu really is much bigger and features quite a lot of non-vegan items.

The Gastown location is an interesting underground space. If you walk along the perimeter you can glimpse the kitchen prepping food (if you're into that sort of thing). Inside, it is a clean space (and a nice change from the dilapidated Gastown look in that area), with mostly tables but also a bit of bar seating as well. Try to get a reservation because it is perpetually busy. If you are sharing food but need separate bills (because of individual drinks, for example), they are able to split items into fractions if necessary.

We were a party of six and we ordered a bunch of things to share. I'll only comment on what I remember of what we ate. Overall, it seemed that the food was tasty enough, without having to be salty. Some people might therefore think that it needs salt, but I think it was just fine without me really missing the saltiness. If you're on a low-sodium sort of diet, Nuba is a safe choice.

Le Grand Feast (2-person portion; $52)
  • This is La Feast plus chicken, lamb, and prawns.
  • La Feast includes
    • Plate 1 (picture)
      • baba ganooj (creamy roasted eggplant puree with citrus and tahini)
      • hummus (organic chickpeas belnded with garlic, lemon, and tahini)
      • taboulleh (hand chopped parsley, tomatoes, green onions, and burghul in a lemon-mint dressing)
      • homemade pickle (some shredded red thing that wasn't sour or salty at all).
      • whole wheat (?) pita bread wedges.
    • Plate 2 (picture)
      • five tiger prawns in some sort of red paste/dip
      • two chicken breast skewers; about 2 burger patties worth of meat
      • two lamb "lollipops" - lamb on the bone; about 1.5 burger patties worth of meat
    • One small bowl of Najib's Special (crispy cauliflower tossed with lemon and sea salt, served with tahini)
      • This is grilled cauliflower, lightly browned on the outside to give a nice aroma and interesting taste. Very interesting to try, and I recommend it if you've never had it.
      • Manami tried a "brussels sprouts fries" that has a similar concept, but is just too bitter overall. This is much better.
    • Bowl 2
  • Overall, I felt the portion was a medium meal for one person. At $52, this felt sort of pricey.
Lamb Hushwie ($9)
  • Sauteed minced lamb with onions, pine nuts, and spices.
  • Served with hummus and slices of avocado, and whole wheat pita bread wedges.
  • Appetizer sized portion.
Duck ($22)
  • Large appetizer-sized portion of duck. I think the six of us got basically a medallion of duck, about the same volume as a ping pong ball. The price was divided evenly, so my portion was $3.67 before tax and tip.
Lamb Shank ($25)
  • Lamb on the bone. Total amount of meat after discounting the bone was maybe the volume of a tennis ball, if that much.
  • Stew was soaked up by a good portion of couscous where the grain was the size of salmon roe. Pretty tasty stew, not very salty.
Garden Falafel ($7.50 per plate; "Victor's secret falafel recipe with avocado and hummus") (picture)
  • If I remember correctly, each plate had 5 falafels. Green on the inside (avocado?).
Quinoa Chocolate Cake ($8) (picture)
  • Two small wedges of toasty chocolate cake that reminded me of the style of chocolate cake you get with a lava cake.
  • Total portion was less than one slice of cake, or maybe a rather thin slice of cake.
  • A bit more crumbly than a "normal" chocolate cake.
  • Some of us thought they'd made a mistake and given us a half portion or something. For the price, I'd normally get 3-4 times as much in a single large slice. Yes, even in Yaletown.
Mascarpone Mousse ($9) (picture)
  • The description of this sounded rather interesting, but the taste was disgusting to me. Which probably means it's one of those love-it-or-hate-it chancy things, especially when our server had to warn us that they might be sold out. Be careful and bring a friend, so if you're turned off, maybe they can finish it for you.
White Coffee ($1)
  • The cup is very, very small. A ping pong ball wouldn't fit into it. The portion is probably less than half a shooter glass.
  • It looks like water, but it's flower-flavour-infused or something. The idea is similar to rosewater, and if you find that strong and off-putting, don't get this. If you do like rosewater, maybe give it a go as something similar, yet different.
  • Bitter flavour, strong flowery aroma. Interesting to try, but even with the small amount, I didn't want to finish it. I'm not good with rosewater, but I just had to try it just to taste what it was all about.
Overall, the dip type stuff (hummus, baba ghanooj, etcetera) was nicely done, but nothing to make it feel outstanding (but how much can you do to these traditional recipes, anyway?). The rest was fine, but felt grossly overpriced.

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