Nobu, the fabulous destiny of the sushi emperor

For many months, we tried to approach Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, alias Nobu. In vain. Chiefs claimed the 73-year-old Japanese businessman was not giving interviews and barely had enough time for his business partner, Robert De Niro (not true). Press officers have argued that he travels the world at least ten months a year to visit his sixty establishments, hotels and restaurants (under two brands: Nobu and Matsuhisa), scattered around the globe (it was true ). His collaborators described an ascetic contenting himself with a bowl of rice and miso soup (fermented soybeans) for breakfast. A Stakhanovist waking up at dawn to do his stretching before a long day at work (his clients moreover discover in their room a small manual for stretching). “His rhythm is incredible, he makes us a little complex”confided Laurence Dubey, manager of her hotel in Barcelona, ​​a gigantic tower planted opposite the station.

The more the legend grew, the more the chef, who went from cook in a sushi bar in the Shinjuku district (the economic heart of Tokyo) to founder of a global culinary empire, seemed out of reach. His mysteries made him an evanescent character, a “Keyser Söze” of raw fish. Besides, hadn’t he actually acted in films, including Casino, by Martin Scorsese? Nobu remained fiction. And then, a lunch miraculously took place, which made it possible to discover the man… more fascinating than his legend.

Nobu Matsuhisa still wields his sushi master's knife occasionally.

Rendez-vous is given at Matsuhisa Paris, the restaurant opened by the chef near the Champs-Elysées, within the palace Le Royal Monceau-Raffles. As soon as you set foot in the vibrant room of colors imagined by Philippe Starck, you hear the whole team shout: “Irasshaimase! » (” Welcome ! »), as is done in some Japanese restaurants. A new customer enters? “Irasshaimase! » We will jump a dozen times before getting used to it.

Neither gilding nor marble in this Japanese enclave of the luxury establishment. But sometimes very wealthy customers (the palace belongs to a Qatari group and sees PSG players parade) who come with their families to slump on the sofas in an atmosphere without fuss. The menu prices vary: a plate of cucumber maki costs 6 euros, while a signature dish from the master, the black code (a white fish caught in Alaska), marinated in a miso sauce, deliciously tender, reaches 54 euros… the price of a starred menu.

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