The Nobu effect: After two decades, we’re still very heavily under the influence

Nobu Matsuhisa
Photo: Isaac Brekken for Bon Appetit

On September 17, Nobu restaurants across the country will celebrate two decades of the chef’s pristine cuisine with “20 Years in 20 Bites,” a special anniversary omakase menu. For one night only, diners from New York to Malibu will be able to experience the same meal, a showcase of the food that has defined the way the world perceives Japanese cooking.

The first restaurant was born in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood when actor Robert De Niro and producer Meir Teper talked now-legendary chef Nobu Matsuhisa into moving beyond his original Beverly Hills restaurant, but Nobu’s cuisine, style and influence have made a serious mark on Las Vegas, too. The first local outpost opened at the Hard Rock Hotel in 1999, and the largest Nobu restaurant in the world opened at Caesars Palace last year—along with the first Nobu-branded boutique hotel, a project expected to expand with more hotel locations around the world to be announced soon.

If you’re fond of ordering sashimi in citrus-soy ponzu sauce speckled with jalapeño, spicy tuna on crispy rice or black cod with miso at your favorite neighborhood sushi joint, that’s all Nobu. Matsuhisa’s signature creations are everywhere, and many local sushi joints are helmed by chefs who perfected their fish-slicing game at the Hard Rock restaurant. Several of the city’s most innovative Asian chefs—including Joseph Elevado at Andrea’s and Akira Back at Yellowtail and Kumi—made their names working at Nobu restaurants before landing on the Strip. (Back is following in the master’s footsteps, forging his own Japanese-Korean cuisine and opening restaurants in Jakarta and New Delhi in the last year.)

Matsuhisa’s pioneering food fuses Peruvian and Japanese flavors and helped create the burgeoning cuisine dubbed nikkei, represented at Vegas’ own SushiSamba restaurant at Palazzo.

20 Years in 20 Bites September 17, $120. Nobu Hard Rock Hotel, 702-693-5090. Nobu Caesars Palace, 702-785-6628.

Tags: Dining
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Brock is an award-winning writer who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for 20 years. He currently leads entertainment ...

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