Step into Nobuo and you'll find a space that Fukuda describes as "elegantly casual." Yet take a second look and you might notice the ways that the chef has adapted a historic building for modern uses.
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While transforming the 111-year-old Teeter House at Heritage Square into an eatery, Fukuda could do little to alter the space without disturbing the house's historic integrity. The original frames, floor, cabinets and kitchen space have been kept as they were, only with the occasional flourish of Japanese artistry to remind patrons they are in an izakaya.
Of course this sense of adaptation applies to the food as well. Currently Nobuo at Teeter House serves lunch and a selection of "small plates," all of which incorporate Japanese techniques and ingredients, and pair well with the wine selection. Fukuda calls it "casual street food," and looking down the menu, we can't help but be reminded of his recent bouts of impromptu cooking at Welcome Diner.
There is a panko-fried soft shell crab sandwich on homemade focaccia with cucumber and a spicy kanzuri aioli adapted from a sauce traditional in northern Japan. "Ebi Salad" comes with grilled shrimp layered with rice noodles, purple basil, mint, cucumber, soy-glazed peanuts, and nuoc cham.
This casual take on food is a bit of a departure from Fukuda's previous restaurant, Sea Saw, which served high volumes of wine and the chef's stylized sashimi. As previously mentioned on Chow Bella, Nobuo has plans for an afternoon tea service (a bit of a tradition at the Teeter House, which formerly had a Victorian tea room), a happy hour with a menu, and dinner.
For now, Fukuda and his staff are slowly dealing with the quirks of running a contemporary restaurant in a very old space, and taking it slow.
"Everything for us is a brand new challenge," Fukuda said.
Foodies interested in sampling what dinner at Nobuo might taste like can stop by this Friday through Sunday from 6 - 10 p.m.for a grand opening. The cost is $15 and dishes will be served family style.