This Monday, February 4, the first-ever guests will check into the Nobu Hotel, a stylish, $30 million takeover of what was formerly the Centurion Tower within Caesars Palace. It’s the first hotel for the Nobu brand, 181 rooms (including 18 suites) completely redesigned by David Rockwell (who also designed the original Las Vegas Nobu restaurant at the Hard Rock Hotel) with a style somewhere between Japanese simplicity and Strip luxury. Of course, it comes with a brand new restaurant and lounge, which just happens to be the largest Nobu dining space in the world at 12,775 square feet and 327 seats.
The hotel-within-a-hotel concept isn’t new, and these days, renovating and re-branding is just about the only option for hotel development on the Strip. Still, this is the first celebrity chef-branded hotel venture in Las Vegas, since Charlie Palmer’s Symphony Park project has been delayed several times and is languishing in limbo. Though Nobu Matsuhisa may not be famous in the same way as so many of today’s TV chefs, his brand is revered by the upscale traveler. He is, after all, the man who reinvented Japanese food. The Nobu vibe will translate well as a hotel, but it remains to be seen if something original is part of the package. More Nobu in Vegas is like a bite of his signature dish, delicate, miso-glazed black cod: Familiar but still delightful, and hopefully as fresh as possible.
How well do you know Nobu?
• Before world domination, Nobu Matsuhisa lived and worked as a chef in Peru, Argentina and Alaska. The South American influence on his sushi and modern Japanese cuisine is a defining characteristic of “Nobu style.”
• Nobu at Caesars Palace gives Matsuhisa 26 restaurants.
• His first restaurant was Matsuhisa, still doing bang-up business in Beverly Hills after 25 years. Robert De Niro persuaded the chef to expand, which led to the first Nobu in Tribeca in 1994 and a three-way partnership between the chef, the actor and Hollywood producer Meir Teper.
• Nobu landed in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel in 1999. Despite ongoing changes at that property and the arrival of the Caesars location, there are no plans for the original to close or move.
• Nobu was in a movie with Beyoncé and Michael Caine. What? It’s true. He made a cameo as the villainous Mr. Roboto in 2002’s Austin Powers in Goldmember.