On 1 June 2022, gateway to the world of culinary celebrity NOBU, the island’s first commission, will be opening within the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel Singapore. This follows suit after news that Southeast’s Asia’s first NOBU in Kuala Lumpur, founded in 2015, decidedly swapped its Menara 3 Petronas location, for stellar views of the KLCC Park water fountain while implanting itself into Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur.
For a long time, this elegant Japanese-Peruvian franchise and its trappings have signified success and a penchant for good times. The entrepreneurial journey of NOBU began almost three decades ago, when after much patient cajoling on Robert DeNiro’s part, managed to rope in master sushi chef Nobu Matsuhisa to open its first restaurant in Tribeca, NYC.
Now, the empire includes 50 restaurants, complemented with luxury hotels, some in very far-flung destinations. The systemized processes in NOBU’s kitchens from pre-opening to opening, are hallmarks of true restaurant professionals, with every detail, from interior decor to service decorum rendered to perfection. Each NOBU kitchen also employs the best chefs who are taught NOBU’s recipes, such as his signature miso-marinated black cod.
Many of us, myself included, have not been privy to this gastronomic experience due to various reasons. But now, thanks to the initiation of Four Seasons Singapore, we can now home in on a slice of the pie, right here in the little red dot.
NOBU is the world’s most recognised Japanese restaurant. What drove this project forward for Four Seasons Hotel Singapore?
Peter: We were presented with the perfect opportunity to partner with the exciting Nobu and felt that it was the right brand and the right time to do so, especially in a city that has a very vibrant and diverse food scene like Singapore.
One of the focal points of NOBU’s menu is the two main concepts – classic dishes and local specialities; What are some of the regional dishes we can look forward to?
Peter: We can’t divulge that now but stay tuned. This will be shared closer to opening date! Be it classic dishes or regional dishes, Nobu Singapore will deliver the same high quality ingredients that Nobu guests around the world have come to expect and love.
Can you give us an insight into the new restaurant’s location in Four Seasons Singapore? What are some of the works involved in erecting the restaurant to convey the mood and ambience of a NOBU establishment?
Peter: The Nobu dining concept in Singapore certainly reflects a distinct approach to dining there. While the sushi bar remains the spotlight of the restaurant, with the sushi chefs showcasing their incredible talents; the space around blends a generous dining area spotted with several private and semi-private rooms.
This flexible layout, open to semi-open to full private rooms, reflects one of the old dining aspects of the Asian culture, where private dining rooms predominated. These have been carefully designed allowing guests to be partially seen or to dine in full privacy. Understanding and discovering nuances in the cultures allows us, designers and architects, to create better spaces, and therefore offering better dining experiences.
Is there a specific centre piece or feature in the upcoming restaurant that you’re particularly proud or excited about?
Peter: Look forward to a world’s first Nobu restaurant to offer a show kitchen as part of a private dining space within the restaurant where guests can enjoy watching our chef in his element as he creates culinary magic right before them, augmenting any celebration or private dining experience.
Nobu Singapore will also be one of only a handful of Nobu restaurants to offer teppanyaki with two customized teppanyaki rooms which can also be converted to private dining rooms.
In another first, Nobu Singapore is the only Nobu restaurant in the world to have an outdoor designer Japanese garden which will definitely create a one-of-a-kind ambience and experience for guests.
I understand that you’re currently hiring for NOBU Singapore. What type of personalities or employee traits are you looking out for, and how does that differ from the hiring process of your other F&B outlets?
Peter: When we hire for any position, we look for authenticity and at the heart of it, a passion to make every guest’s experience the best possible one. For Nobu Singapore, we are looking for employees with high energy and are comfortable bringing their unique and engaging personalities along on top of that.
Can you predict some of the upcoming challenges that NOBU Singapore will face?
Peter: We can see that the global supply chains and costs are increasingly challenged. This is a key factor for all, including the food and beverage services. To anticipate and mitigate possible scenarios, we have put plans in place to ensure that guests’ experience will continue to be a positive one.
For example, it’s safe to say that most Singaporeans are quite obsessed with Japanese culture, and being well-travelled have thus had their fair share of authentic Japanese food.
How will NOBU Singapore position themselves to be more than just ‘expensive sushi’?
Peter: The local dining scene is well-versed in many international cuisines including Japanese culture and cuisine. The beauty of Nobu is in its signature New Style cuisine combines Japanese techniques with Peruvian ingredients and is widely embraced by many around the world. That is definitely beyond ‘expensive sushi’ and embraces a deep understanding of flavor and texture profiles of both Japanese and Peruvian flavours.
Lastly, will Nobu Matsuhisa be making a guest appearance at any point of time?
Peter: Yes, he will be coming to Singapore and the date will be shared soon.
For more stories on food, check out our lifestyle section.
Picture credit: City of Dreams