After almost 60 restaurants and nearly 40 hotels across the world, chef Nobu Matsuhisa is not contemplating the simpler life. He is not thinking of opening, say, an elevated pizzeria or burger joint. Nor is he looking to explore other culinary demesnes where a chef of his legendary talent might find fruitful expression.
“I don’t like to change concepts. I don’t want to open Chinese food, French food, Italian food. It’s always the Nobu concept,” the chef said the other afternoon in the Nobu Villa, the capacious crown of the Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace — 10,000 square feet, $35,000 a night — during his trip to Las Vegas to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the opening of the first Nobu Hotel. (His Nobu restaurant, in Caesars, was also marking its 10th anniversary at the property.)
The chef was joined in the villa’s drawing room, on plumped couches, by Trevor Horwell, CEO of Nobu Hospitality Group, and Meir Teper, his founding partner (with Robert De Niro) in the Nobu group.
Perhaps more than any other living chef, Matsuhisa has taken a signature culinary style — Japanese classicism married with Peruvian and other influences — and extended that spirit into a signature free-floating internationalism that seems suited to wherever it touches down.
You might say miso black cod has conquered the world.
From the menu to hotels
The chef never imagined himself as an innkeeper, of the haute variety or otherwise.
“I never think about the hotel business. I never worked in hotels,” Matsuhisa said. But a fortuitous confluence of his business partners with Gary Selesner, then president of Caesars Palace, led to the launch of the first Nobu Hotel at the property. The hotel, the chef said, would partake of the same spirit as Nobu dining.
“It’s beautiful locations. Customers come, then people stay, and little by little, we’re getting the reputation, good food, good service. We want to make them happy — same concept as the restaurants.”
And now the happy is being expanded to Nobu Residences, in keeping with the global trend of stylish homes inspired by the world’s lifestyle taste makers. The first development, in Los Cabos, Mexico, is launching in 2023, followed by residences in the two 45-story towers in Toronto’s Entertainment District, planned for 2024.
It’s Nobu’s world; we’re just living in it (if we are so fortunate).
Ingredients, omakase style
During the 10th anniversary celebration, the chef returned to his roots, with a teppanyaki experience (for a handful of friends of the house) at Nobu restaurant in Caesars Palace.
Ingots of A5 wagyu beef took to the teppanyaki flat top. Matsuhisa led the cooking, assisted by Jennifer Chow, the executive chef of Nobu at Caesar Palace.
“Teppanyaki is a cooking process. Mine is more like an omakase teppanyaki — not just a show,” the chef said.
No flashing knives, no theatrics, just the honorable treatment of ingredients, as the chef has always been known for. The plates came out, the luscious sliced beef in slices, served with a scatter of sea salt and a hillock salted yuzu chili paste. The guests anointed the beef with salt and dredged the beef through the chili paste.
No matter the global empire, the Nobu approach comes down this: ingredients perfectly cooked.