Chef Nobu Matsuhisa's Thwarted Sacrilegious Dinner - The Scene

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa almost hosted the one-night only Nobu Experience at the Nobu Manila in City of Dreams on the day of sacrifice

It would have been a sacrilegious dinner in Manila if Chef Nobu Matsuhisa had not been able to adjust his schedule. The internationally renowned executive chef and owner of the Nobu and Matsuhisa restaurants was on a month-long promotional tour to select cities which had Nobu hotels and restaurants. Travelling across continents to London, Milan, Paris, New York, Melbourne, Perth and Kuala Lampur, Chef Nobu had earmarked to Manila as his final stop to host a one night culinary event at Nobu Manila in City of Dreams. That night was set for a Friday, which fell during Holy Week. “The Nobu Experience” was supposed to have happened on Good Friday, when Christendom was observing fasting and abstinence.

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Lifestyle Asia EIC Anna Sobrepeña chopstick feeding with Chef Nobu during the one night only dinner at Nobu Manila in City of Dreams
An autographed copy of Chef Nobu's book
An autographed copy of Chef Nobu’s book
Buffet style layout of handcrafted finger food
Buffet style layout of handcrafted finger food

A Dinner, A Book and a Photo

City of Dreams Vice-President for Public Relations Charisse Chuidian and her team managed to have the culinary affair moved to a day after Good Friday. There was little they could do to find another time for the visit other than Holy Week. Chef Nobu already had a full itinerary when the dates of his visit were communicated to the City of Dreams. Even after the dinner was moved to Saturday, there were apprehensions considering most of the urban denizens were away during the Holy Week. As it turned out, more than 100 guests booked for the PHP 10,000.00 privilege to be part of the Nobu Experience.

The reputation of one of luxury’s 25 Most Innovative Brands, going by the Robb Report, brought in Manila’s discriminating diners for a canapé dinner and a chance to meet-and-greet Chef Nobu and possibly, even have a photo with him. The fee included a signed edition of the celebrity chef’s book, Nobu: A Memoir.

Sushi, Sashimi and Sake Sorbets

The Nobu Experience started at 5PM and stayed open till 11PM. Guests were served bite-size portions of food passed around by the wait staff. Diners moved freely about, tasting from the passing trays and the different stations where buffet-style spreads were laid out or food was prepared a la minute in live action stations. There was a carving station at the teppan table serving Nobu-style wagyu pastrami sliders, wagyu gyoza with spicy ponzu sauce. The robatayaki station had assorted kushiyaki of beef, chicken, squid, baby octopus, shitake stars, chicken skin and leeks.

While there were different pass around sushi of fresh yellowtail from Japan with jalapeño and local bigeye tuna with matsuhisa dressing, the sushi bar also offered tachiuo dry miso that was sourced locally and lapu lapu in new sashimi style. The fresh octopus tiradito was imported from Japan.

Other options were available at the sake cup sushi buffet and the sake cup sushi a la carte. Sweet finishers were plated at dessert action station with an option to make a version of halo-halo. Another corner had sorbets infused with sake.

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Assorted Nobu Mini Tacos of king crab, tuna, wagyu, salmon avocado and pork
Assorted Nobu Mini Tacos of king crab, tuna, wagyu, salmon avocado and pork
Rock Shrimp Tempura
Rock Shrimp Tempura
Signature Black Cod on Butter Lettuce with Crispy Kataifi
Signature Black Cod on Butter Lettuce with Crispy Kataifi
Nobu Manila Head Sushi Chef Kirika Oi, Nobu Matsuhisa, Nobu Manila Head Chef Michael de Jesus
Nobu Manila Head Sushi Chef Kirika Oi, Nobu Matsuhisa, Nobu Manila Head Chef Michael de Jesus

Japanese, Peruvian and Ilonggo

Guests who had settled in their tables were served from the cold kitchen and the hot kitchen. The selections included signature dishes like the black cod butter lettuce with crispy kataif or shredded phylo pastry, Nobu mini tacos with king crab, tuna, wagyu, salmon avocado, and pork, the Chilean sea bass with jalapeño miso and umami chicken wings with sweet soy anticucho.

The Japanese-Peruvian fusion artistry of Chef Nobu integrated local flavors using dips and sauces familiar to the Filipino palate. Skewered meats were served with three dips, one of which was sinamak, the zesty spice vinegar from Illongo origins.

There had been some skeptical reaction to the idea of paying for a canapés dinner but the unlimited amount of food, albeit in bite-size portions, and the quality of the dishes and the service dispelled notions of being short-changed. It was essentially Nobu food in small portions that could be consumed till capacities had been reached.

Chef Nobu was ably assisted by Nobu Manila’s head chef Michael de Jesus and head Sushi Chef Kirika Oi, together with their team to mount the tour finale dinner.

By Anna Isabel C. Sobrepeña

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