He’s one of the most influential chefs in the world with his vast restaurant repertoire spanning the globe from New York to Kuala Lumpur to Budapest. Born in Saitama, Japan to a lumber merchant, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa – known to the world simply as “Nobu” – today counts Robert de Niro among his friends and traces his journey from humble beginnings in Tokyo to, developing his signature style in Peru, and picking kitchen essentials, on Luxurylaunches.
1) Your restaurant, Nobu is quite the global sensation, known for serving ‘innovative fusion cuisine’. How exactly would you dissect this expression?
My cuisine is called “Nobu Style,” mixing traditional Japanese cuisine with Peruvian influences.
2) You were born and raised in Japan so your first step into another country might have been quite a culture shock? What were your initial thoughts?
When I moved to Peru, I was surprised that they ate Sashimi without soy sauce, which is how we eat in Japanese. The different sauces used with Japanese food in Peru, was the biggest surprise.
3) We have heard stories of how you picked up over 20kg of eel for only a few dollars from a fisherman and introduced it in Peruvian cooking. What are your five kitchen essentials?
Knife, cutting board, stove, salt and dashi.
4) When Japanese food first took off in India, many thought it would die a fad. And yet, here we are so much so that I once went chasing the address of a near authentic eatery in the hill-town of Dharamshala. What do you think always works?
I think universally, if you are thinking about what your customers want to eat and created dishes with that in mind, your food will work anywhere.
5) And yet you have faced some hardship in your initial tries. How does it feel when you look back?
I learned from all of my experiences, both good and bad and they have helped to shape where I am now.
6) From hardships to hotels, you’ve launched Nobu Hotel with your partner RobertDeNiro. Do tell us more about it.
Many of my restaurants are located in hotels around the world, so expanding further into hospitality happened very naturally. In fact, one day Mr. DeNiro suggested that we should do the hotel business along with the restaurant and we made it happen.
7) Your hospitality group currently has 25 restaurants in 21 different cities around the world, which must mean you’re a frequent traveller. How important do you think it is for chefs to travel?
It is very important that I visit each of my restaurants to communicate with our staff and check the quality of the food and service. I am very involved in each location, traveling up to 10 months each year.
8) The first “World of Nobu” food festival concluded recently at Atlantis, the Palm in Dubai. Tell us a bit about it, like what led to its inception?
We have restaurants in five continents, but there has not been an opportunity for everyone to meet at one location at the same time. Our Nobu restaurant here in Dubai and Atlantis, The Palm provided the perfect opportunity for us to stay in the same place and all cook in the same kitchen. We talked about food, new menus and plans for the future. It is like a gathering of family and has been my dream.
9) It almost sounds like a throwback to “The Enchantments of India”, the five-day culinary event, which was catered by your team of 25 chefs at a Mumbai restaurant. Since then, other ‘Nobu’ chefs have made their way to the country and recreated your signature dishes for the Indian taste buds. Why not the eponymous restaurant?
Presently I don’t have any restaurants in India as our hands are quite full with the launch of the Nobu hotels.
10) Any India trips in the near future?
I don’t have any plans to go India at this time but do enjoy visiting.