Chef Nobu here to serve, golf during Sony Open
To golf enthusiasts, it's Sony Open week in Hawai'i.
But to those who love fine Asian food, it's Nobu week.
Nobu is Nobu Matsuhisa, owner of Nobu Waikiki at the Waikiki Parc Hotel and of 21 other Nobu restaurants around the world (plus three Matushisa restaurants and one, in London, called Ubon). More than any other, Nobu introduced America to the concept of Asian fusion, pairing yellow tail tuna with jalapenos, putting sashimi in a salad, making a sake and mint mojito with uni (sea urchin).
He is here to cater the official 1,000-guest Sony Open Dinner on Thursday and to himself prepare a $120-per-person omakase menu on Friday at Nobu Waikiki. ("Omakase" means, roughly, "you choose"; the sushi chef selects from the best and freshest what the diners will eat, no ordering). It's a concept he helped introduce to the U.S.
Seats are still available for the $120-per-person Nobu Omakase event. There will be two seatings: 5:30-6:30 p.m. or 8-9 p.m. Reservations: 237-6999.
Nobu will play a little golf, too, while in Honolulu, though he frankly admits he's a duffer who has time for the game only once or twice a year.
He's got a practice tee time today and then Monday will play in the Dream Cup, the Sony Open's version of a pro-am.
After that, it will be prep, prep, prep for the big dinner at the Hawai'i Convention Center.
He'll also spend some time talking to press about the new book he co-authored with the chef of his Miami restaurant, Thomas Buckley, ""Nobu Miami, The Party Cookbook" (Kodansha International, hardback, $39.95), a sumptuously photographed recipe collection that includes not only recipes influenced by Miami, South America and the Caribbean but a chapter of Nobu classics.
Buckley arrives in Hawai'i today along with some other Nobu chefs who'll join the local team for the massive Sony Open Dinner production.
Nobu, who made his first visit to Hawai'i 21 years ago, said he loves it here and is delighted to have a reason to stop off here in the form of Nobu Waikiki.
Though the restaurant will be shuttered Thursday evening so all hands can be on deck at the convention center, he scoffed at rumors that the restaurant will close, though — as with every other establishment in the area — business has slowed.
Trained as a classical sushi chef in Tokyo, Matsuhisa's life took a momentous turn when a client invited him to open a restaurant in Lima, Peru, when the young sushi master was just 22 years old. There, and later in Buenos Aires, Argentina, his eyes were opened to ingredients and techniques that were new to him. He embraced them.
In an interview this morning, Nobu (as he prefers to be known), said he has three more restaurants in development — Mexico City, Moscow and Capetown, South Africa. The latter will mean he has restaurants on five continents, he said proudly.
He is proud, too, that next week, he will be among 10 select chefs from around the world — and the only Asian — to receive an award at the Madrid Fusion International Summit of Gastronomy. The award recognizes chefs that have profoundly altered the culinary landscape worldwide.