Accompanied by Ichibaku Kobayashi – General Manager of Nobu Tokyo & Regional Director of Asia Pacific, Chef Herve Courtot – Corporate Chef EU & Middle East, and Chef Philip Leong – Executive Chef of Nobu KL at the interview session, here are some surprising facts about the Co-Founder behind Nobu and Nobu Hotels:
4. The secrets to his success: While luck may play a role in Nobu-san’s success, the master chef believes his team is one of the fundamentals of his continued success.
“Passion and heart are also essential,” says Chef Nobu. “Without passion and heart, it’s not possible to do well.”
5. His favourite dishes from the Nobu menu are:
· Soft Shell Crab Roll – Nobu-san enjoys eating soft shell crabs in French and Italian restaurants where they are pan- and deep-fried. When he served deep-fried soft shell crabs to one of his customers, the latter requested Chef Nobu to wrap the leftover soft shell crab pieces into a rice roll, and voila! the soft shell crab roll was created.
· New Style Sashimi – when a lady customer sent back a plate of sashimi, informing Chef Nobu she doesn’t eat raw fish, the chef pondered how to entice her to try it. He then heated up some olive oil until smoking hot, poured it over the thin slices of sashimi, causing the fish to cook slightly. After sampling the new dish, the customer ate everything up.
“She managed overcome her fear of eating raw fish from that experience. Before that, she shied away from sashimi as she thought it’d taste fishy but we proved to her fresh fish tastes delicious” said Nobu-san.
6. No bizarre food please. Chef Nobu is not a fan of weird or strange food. He has tried nasi goreng, laksa and seafood on his visit to Malaysia, and he admitted he's more comfortable with Asian food than French food.
Ever respectful of his customers’ cultural differences, the chef was even inspired to create his signature wasabi pepper sauce after noticing a customer enjoying a mixture of shoyu and wasabi as a bread dip at Nobu restaurant.
The Pandemic Years
Having to travel 10 months a year and feeling jetlagged, Nobu-san said he was happy to stay home in Los Angeles during the pandemic years.
“It was the first time in over 25 years I had stuck to a routine: being able to wake up and go to bed at the same time, every day. Yet it was also stressful but with FaceTime and modern technology, I can still communicate with my team.”
Some Nobu restaurants were closed during that time whilst others coped by doing take-out. According to Chef Philip Leung, Nobu KL was under renovations then but they also did take-out during the later MCO phases.
Now that things have returned to normal, Nobu restaurants are busier than ever with customers returning in droves.
New Nobu restaurants and Nobu Hotels are also opening in Marrakesh, Rome, San Sebastian, Madrid, Toronto, Atlantic City, Atlanta, Da Nang, Bangkok, and Dubai.
According to Nobu-san, he has no plans to set up a culinary academy or pursue anything too adventurous due to time constraints. He's happy to focus on the restaurant business and see his customers enjoying his cooking for now.
7. His last meal on earth? As a true blue Japanese, sushi is his dish of choice.