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Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, fondly called Chef Nobu, is a very popular Japanese chef and restaurateur, well-known for his fusion cuisine, mixing traditional Japanese dishes with ingredients from other parts of the world.  

I learned that one of my favorite Hollywood actors, Robert de Niro, is a loyal fan of his cuisine and has partnered with the chef in opening some restaurants in different parts of the globe. I figure that, with a stellar name backing up such business ventures, it’s no surprise that all their restaurants have attained huge success.

Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa poses outside Nobu Hotel Manila
NOBU AT NOBU. Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa poses outside Nobu Hotel Manila before his exclusive lunch with a group of Filipino journalists.  (Photo from @therealnobu/Instagram)
You can imagine how thrilled I was when I heard several years ago that a Nobu Hotel was going to open here in our city, and that both Chef Nobu and my favorite Robert de Niro were coming to town for its formal opening.  

Alas and alack, the day came, but I had to be out of town for a business engagement. I felt terrible having missed such golden opportunity. But I must have done something good in my early life, God has a way of eventually giving me what I want.

Not too long ago, my friends at City of Dreams, the ultimate PR guru Charisse Chuidian and the hardworking PR director Romina Gervacio, asked me if I would be available for lunch with Chef Nobu. My wildly ecstatic affirmative response said it all!

So, there I was, with a motley group of Press friends who all came together, eager to know more about the chef and to sample his culinary masterpieces. From our tables, we could see him busy, giving instructions to the kitchen staff, probably making sure that the dishes served to us later would be of his excellent standards.

Chef Nobu showing us how to make great sushi in 6 easy steps.
Chef Nobu showing us how to make great sushi in 6 easy steps.
When he finally positioned himself in front of the demo table, he was met with thunderous applause.  He began explaining to us the importance of having the right ingredients, putting emphasis on how the right quality and mix of ingredients can transform an ordinary dish into a culinary masterpiece.

He then demonstrated the six easy steps in making great sushi. These six steps involve the fingers and the palm of the hand, pressing the small piece of fish on the rice using several fingers, cupping them in the hand, and shaping them with two fingers, and after the sixth step, they’re ready to eat. 

We were all given beautiful kitchen aprons, in case we wanted to try our hand in making sushi. Some did, but I didn’t want to expose my zero knowledge in the kitchen, so I just waited to try out the food the chef prepared for us.

Chef Nobu and his business partner, Hollywood actor Robert de Niro.
Chef Nobu and his business partner, Hollywood actor Robert de Niro.
First, we were served Kinmedai, a wasabi soy cream and oyster mushroom, followed by the chef’s Sushi Cup Selection (Koi Fish, Hirame XO Salsa, Tuna, Tachiuo Sakura Petal, and Tamago). This was followed by a Green Salad, then by his favorite recipe, Black Cod with Calamansi Den Miso. Miso Soup was then served, and the hearty meal was capped with a delicious dessert made of coconut and pandan. 

I could not believe I finally partook of a trademark Chef Nobu meal which he himself prepared!

Having enjoyed Chef Nobu’s signature dishes, I made sure I had the chance to chat with him for a while. He was born and raised in Saitama, Japan and first worked as an apprentice in a sushi bar in Tokyo. He also worked for three years in Los Angeles, in Peru, then in Argentina, then back to Japan, then Alaska, before he settled down again in Los Angeles.  

With my idol in the kitchen
It was in 1987 when he opened his first restaurant in Beverly Hills. The success of this business venture led him to meet Robert de Niro and Meir Teper, as both became loyal disciples of his cuisine leading the trio to open their first business venture in 1994. Now there are 41 restaurants and six Nobu Hotels all over the world.

Chef Nobu’s signature dishes are served at Nobu Manila which can accommodate 260 and has two private dining rooms, a sushi bar, floating water cabanas, two teppanyaki tables, and a Chef’s Table.

I’m going back there again to try out some more of Chef Nobu’s signature dishes, this time, relishing the thought that I have come face-to-face with the world-famous “Grand Master” of the kitchen.


Q: Why does the giraffe have such a long neck?
A: Because its feet smell really bad.

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Topics: Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa , Chef Nobu , Japanese chef and restaurateur , Japanese dishes , Nobu Manila
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