All eyes were on Robert de Niro at the cocktail reception held Monday to celebrate the grand opening of Nobu Manila.
The actor—with chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Hollywood producer Meir Tepper, Nobu chief executive Trevor Horwell, and Melco Crown Entertainment CEO and cochair Lawrence Ho and cochair James Packer— spent the afternoon with media before getting dressed for the purple carpet.
Royal purple carpet
Instead of rolling out the traditional red carpet, a royal purple one—following Nobu’s signature color—was laid at the entrance of the 321-room boutique hotel. VIPs strolled down the carpet before heading to Nobu Restaurant where they nibbled on a variety of appetizers.
They were later led outside for the Kagami-biraki or “opening the lid” ceremony. The ritual, performed at celebratory events, involves breaking open the lid of a sake barrel with a wooden mallet; the sake is then served to everyone.
Guests then filed into the ballroom where a sit-down meal was served including Nobu favorites like the Signature Sashimi Trio (Tuna Tataki Cilantro, Yellowtail Jalapeño, White Fish Dry Miso), Black Cod with Nasu Miso and Pickled Paper Thin Vegetables, and Slow Cooked Wagyu with Crispy Mushroom Salad.
Dessert was a Nobu concoction called Miso Banana Bar.
De Niro was obviously the star of the evening—celebrities, politicians, businessmen and socialites lining up to him to either chat or have a photo-op, including rap star apl.de.ap, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Inquirer’s Tessa Prieto-Valdes and actress Iza Calzado.
Nobu Manila, located inside the City of Dreams complex, is only the second of its kind worldwide.
In 2013, the first Nobu Hotel opened inside Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. It was named one of the Hottest New Hotels by CNN Travel and subsequently received Luxury Travel Advisor’s Award of Excellence.
Island resort planned
This early, however, De Niro is considering putting up a Nobu Resort after visiting Palawan recently. “We’re planning to open a Nobu Resort in another part of the world, but we might also do one on an island here.”
Told that the country has over 7,000 islands, the actor grinned and said, “There should be something there, somewhere. This is the perfect place for it.”
He and his business partners were optimistic that the Nobu hotel and restaurant would do well in Manila. “The Philippines is one of the fastest-growing nations in Asia, and I think this growth will continue,” Packer, Melco cochair, said.
Still, De Niro admitted feeling apprehensive on his first visit to the country last year. “I was concerned when it would be finished, but Lawrence [Ho] said it would be done by December and he was right.”
He explained why he ventured into the hotel business after opening several Nobu restaurants with Tepper and longtime friend and business partner Matsuhisa.
“Different hoteliers have been asking us to open Nobu in their properties. ‘Why are we doing this? Let’s open our own hotel,’” De Niro said.
This might seem far removed from acting, but he said he is also just someone who stays at hotels, whether for business or leisure.
“It can be irksome for people to go to a hotel, and find a faucet that drips or discover that the room has cheaply made facilities. If you have only a few days to spend in a hotel, you want everything to be done well. The devil is really in the details, and I get that,” he said.