Cauliflower with Matsuhisa sauce, scallops with saffron–even ‘sinigang’ is given that extraordinary Nobu touch | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

WATERMELON salad with arugula and candied nuts


IT’S A BUFFET and it’s Japanese food, but it’s all on his own terms and nothing about it is ordinary.

It’s the Sunday brunch at Nobu Hotel, and it has all the imprints of acclaimed chef and restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa.


Known for his innovative Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, Nobu derives inspiration from the places where he has lived:  in his native Japan, in Argentina, in Peru and other places all over the globe.

His classical training in Tokyo’s sushi bars manifests itself in the delicate morsels of sushi that are the signature appetizers of Japanese cuisine.


Yet there’s often a surprise in the way they’re presented and the way they taste.


The impressive array of sushi, for instance, includes not only glistening fresh salmon and tuna on vinegared rice, but also translucent slices of white fish wrapped with shiso leaves, creating a contrast between the fish’s clean, briny  taste and the slightly herbal shiso leaves.


Paper-thin Japanese radish called daikon are used as a wrap for lettuce and is splashed with a spicy chili garlic dressing. The slices of sea bass and yellow tail get a good dose of heat with jalapeño peppers.


Even the French Fine de Claire  oysters, succulent as they are, have a Nobu touch. They’re served with ponzu sauce, a citrusy blend of lemon and soy sauce.


Vegetables and fruits are given their own Nobu treatment, too. My friend and I can’t get enough of the watermelon salad served with candied nuts on a hay of arugula leaves and drizzled with a tangy dressing made with yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit.


Nobu even manages to make cauliflower likeable, a colossal accomplishment considering what cauliflower tastes like. In Nobu, the florets are roasted and bathed in

Matsuhisa sauce, a blend of onion, vinegar, soy sauce and a bit of jalapeño emulsion, transforming them into palatable bites.




“It’s all about simplicity,” says head chef Michael de Jesus, who worked eight years at Nobu Las Vegas before transferring to Manila. “The food speaks for itself. It lets you taste everything in a dish. You can distinguish all the ingredients.”


There’s certainly no mistaking the freshness of the seafood.  On display are whole—as in head-to-tail whole— tuna, salmon and lapu-lapu.

At the appointed time, sushi master chef Akihisa Kawai comes in to demonstrate how he carves a whole fresh tuna for sushi and sashimi.


At 50 kilos, the tuna is humongous, but Kawai clarifies that it’s only baby tuna.

With deft precision and a sharp knife, he dissects the tuna, much like a brain surgeon operating on a patient. A few minutes later, he triumphantly holds up a luscious-looking whole slab of shiny red tuna flesh, ready to be sliced. The crowd breaks into applause.


Different carving per week


Aside from the hot dishes such as shrimp in spicy garlic sauce and braised short ribs, waiters pass around a variety of other dishes such as seared scallops with saffron, and ebi tempura coated with a light, airy batter.


Nobu’s Sunday brunch  includes a different carving every week.

This Sunday it’s a whole lechon with golden brown crispy skin. But this being Nobu, there’s more than one kind of sauce: teriyaki sauce, anticucho sauce (a Peruvian sauce made with aji peppers) and the traditional liver sauce blended with tonkatsu sauce. The result is a piquant, elusive flavor that keeps the taste buds guessing.


“We try to marry the culture of the Filipino with Nobu style,” says de Jesus.


Likewise the sinigang isn’t just plain sinigang. Instead of the traditional souring agents like tamarind or guava, Nobu’s sinigang has a miso soup base and is gently soured with yuzu, giving the sinigang a mellower flavor.


“It’s easy on the stomach,” says De Jesus. And it’s aesthetically pleasing, too. The eggplants in the soup are diced into dainty little cubes that look like origami cutouts.


Father’s Day


This Sunday being Father’s Day, Nobu’s carving station will feature roast Wagyu beef and on-the-spot carving of sashimi. A cooking station will serve teppanyaki dishes a la minute, and there will be a special beverage preparation of Maker’s Mark smoked old-fashioned bourbon.


Desserts in Nobu’s Sunday brunch are equally tantalizing.  The lava cake is heated in the oven just before serving so that a rivulet of chocolate lava flows from the center.

The green tea cake is frosted with glossy chocolate icing and has a top layer of green tea mousse.


And instead of just plain chocolate fountain, there’s a towering fountain of matcha white chocolate ganache, on which one can dip morsels of brownies and meringue.


With some 50 dishes spread out in this Oriental-themed restaurant, Nobu’s Sunday brunch is lavishness redefined. It’s a Sunday feast, all right, but it’s all on Nobu’s terms —and there’s always a delightful surprise in the way the flavors are fused together.


Nobu’s Sunday brunch buffet is priced at  P2880++ per person, served 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at Nobu Hotel, City of Dreams,  Parañaque City.  Call 8008080; e-mail [email protected]

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