Growing up, Nobu Matsuhisa worked in a restaurant in Tokyo. After a stint in Peru, he moved to Los Angeles and eventually met actor Robert De Niro, who asked him to open a restaurant in New York. “Eventually, after four years when my business really started to gain success, Robert asked me again. This time I agreed that I was ready to come to New York,” Matsuhisa says.
Today, they are business partners, alongside film producer Meir Teper, presenting some of the most sought-after dishes and dining experiences around the world. They’ve also expanded into the hospitality industry, opening hotels in cities like Miami and London.
Whitewaller spoke with Matsuhisa about Nobu Hotel London Shoreditch, art, and cultural heritage.
WHITEWALLER: Tell us a bit about your role as founder and chef as it exists today.
NOBU MATSUHISA: My main role is traveling to all of our locations to support and work with the chefs and restaurant teams. We make sure that we are constantly providing outstanding food and service. This is what makes our guests and diners return.
WW: Tell us a bit about what makes the Shoreditch property in London special, or particularly different than the rest.
NM: Well, of course, the fact that it is our first hotel in Europe as well as our third restaurant site makes it very different. The menu at Nobu Shoreditch serves Nobu classics alongside new and original dishes unique to the Shoreditch restaurant. With it being inside the hotel, it is also the first Nobu in London to serve breakfast. Shoreditch attracts a completely different, and more localized, audience compared to our other London restaurants, which presented a unique and exciting challenge for us. This also helps us to build on the Nobu brand’s presence and recognition in London as a whole.
Shoreditch is the heart of London’s creative scene, and so we thought it was a really exciting proposition to combine Nobu’s signature East-meets-West philosophy with Shoreditch’s creative and industrial energy. Guests are surprised at how Zen our hotel is within the busy, industrial environment. When Robert De Niro first came to Shoreditch, he actually saw similarities with Tribeca, where we opened our first restaurant together. We were really enthusiastic about the growth in the area and really excited to embrace a new local community. Shoreditch has a combination of local residents that make up a community with an exciting area that appeals to visitors and outsiders.
WW: Tell us a bit about art’s presence at Nobu Hotel London Shoreditch.
NM: We commissioned Hackney-based artist Sichi to produce art installations in each of the guest rooms of Nobu Hotel London Shoreditch. The art is representative of the hotel’s location and its connection to a Japanese cultural heritage.
The series of original paintings is titled “Taizu,” which translates from Japanese as “stay.” This directly relates to the residing in a hotel room, beckoning the guest to take time to reflect on the work presented to them and in essence, created for them. Immediately influenced by both London and Japan, the paintings are formed of expressive brushstrokes, layered paint effects, and bold graphical ink lines.