Food Reviews: Nubon

Hicksville (516) 681-9800


Nubon, a sushi and grill Japanese restaurant that opened late last year in Hicksville looks far more expensive than it is. Sixteen of their generously portioned special rolls cost $4 each, 14 appetizers are in the $4 to $6 range and all 20 sashimis go for $3 and $4. Ice cream is $3 and a glass of lemonade is priced at a very modest $2. Yet, the food at Nubon (we’re told it means “fresh and modern”) ranks right up there among the Island’s top-tier Japanese restaurants and, like many of them, it has Chinese, not Japanese, owners. (Surprisingly, a good number of sushi chefs are also Chinese).

Sushi and sashimi dominate Nubon’s menu, but don’t neglect the salads, hot and cold appetizers, hot pot, and rice and noodle dishes that are on par with the mild and light sushi. The sushi regular platter ($17) with eight pristine pieces and a tuna roll is an excellent choice.

Nubon is a spare, modern, though not-elegant spot with shiny bead curtains that separate the bar from the dining room, which has ceiling spotlighting, bare tables, placemats and an attractive flush-to-the-wall electric fireplace that creates simulated flames and real heat.

Before appetizers come to the table, an order of plump, warm, appropriately salty edamame ($4) is perfect for nibbling, while a slim carafe of hot sake ($9.50) provides enough of the rice wine to satisfy four diners, with some left over to accompany four starters.

Diners would be well advised to kick off their meal with the world-class seaweed salad ($6), a hefty pile of tender, tasty greens atop a generous base of lettuce.

Five pieces of lightly-browned, stuffed Japanese dumplings (Gyoza) ($5) are another recommended financial and culinary choice. After that, check out the diverse, extensive list of 40 special rolls, most at very gentle prices. We tried the tuna avocado roll ($6) and the salmon roll ($4). The two ingredients in the first proved to be made for each other, while the salmon’s six or seven substantial pieces showed that these starters were anything but just a bite of this and a bite of that.

That $17 sushi array was preceded by the standard miso soup and green salad with ginger dressing. A bowl of chicken katsu ($10), or cutlet strips over rice, is an earthy, toothsome treat for patrons who want both bulk and flavor. The two other main courses yielded mixed results. The tempura udon ($12) consisted of fresh, lightly-breaded shrimp and vegetables, and a bowl of long, soft noodles in a rather bland, anemic broth. The soft shell crab fried rice ($15) included just a few crunchy, springy crabs and plenty of fried rice that needed some wasabi-spiked soy sauce to bring it to life, and even then, it was far from memorable.

Ice cream and more ice cream (sesame, ginger, red bean, green tea and vanilla) is the only choice for dessert. But sweets are rarely a strong suit at Asian restaurants. Nevertheless, Nubon is a strong, affordable addition to the Island’s Japanese restaurants for its food, prices and concerned, obliging service.

photos by stephen lang

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richard jay scholem

Richard Jay Scholem practically invented the Long Island restaurant culture through 800+ reviews of the region's eateries both on radio and in print over the last 30 years. He is a former New York Times Long Island Section restaurant reviewer, has contributed to the Great Restaurants of...magazines and Bon Vivant, authored a book, aired reviews on WGSM and WCTO radio stations, served on the board of countless community and food and beverage organizations, and received many accolades for his journalism in both print and broadcast media. He is currently available for restaurant consultation. Reach him at (631) 271-3227.