MANILA – Sushi, particularly nigiri (rice topped with fish), can be difficult to handle especially if using chopsticks.
But according to renowned Japanese chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, hands can also be used in eating this type of sushi.
It’s not disrespectful at all – in fact, it is a traditional way to savor the beloved Japanese dish.
During a special demonstration recently held at Nobu Manila at City of Dreams Manila in Parañaque, Matsuhisa showed how it’s done: Turn the sushi on its side, pick it up and hold with a hand or chopsticks, dip the fish (not the rice) in the soy sauce, and eat it in one bite.
“Don’t [dip] the rice side. Soy sauce on the fish side,” he explained.
Matsuhisa, one of the world’s most celebrated chefs, recently visited the country to helm a one-night-only, eight-course omakase dinner at Nobu Manila.
The visit is part of his Asia-Pacific tour that includes Singapore, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
Matsuhisa is known globally for his unique approach to Japanese cuisine. His food is highly influenced by Peruvian cooking, a result of working in the South American country for three years.
After opening his first restaurant in Beverly Hills in 1987 and the first Nobu restaurant in 1994, his empire has grown significantly. Today, there are a total of 41 Nobu restaurants and 10 hotels around the world.
“My food is very, very simple. Just use the best ingredients. Just simple cooking,” he said while tossing his signature Field Green Salad with shaved root vegetable and Matsuhisa dressing.
“The customers also need to see the dish and say, ‘Wow, beautiful.’”
During the demo, Matsuhisa also shared stories of how some of his dishes came to be.
He recalled a time when a guest didn’t like raw fish. So instead, he laid out salmon sashimi on a plate and topped it with minced garlic, slivers of ginger, green onions, soy sauce, and lemon juice.
He finished it with a light drizzle of hot olive oil and sesame oil, which partially cooked the fish. This dish has since become a staple in his restaurants and is called New Style Sashimi.
Another signature dish is the sushi cup. Instead of the traditional form of nigiri and rolls, Nobu restaurants also serve sushi in sake cups.
The cup is sprayed with soy sauce (using spray bottles creates less waste, according to Matsuhisa) then topped with fish and garnished with roe, sakura petal, or anything that would make the sushi more colorful.
The media luncheon was a preview of sorts of Matsuhisa’s eight-course omakase dinner, which was sold out despite the hefty price tag of P8,888 per person.
Matsuhisa was assisted by Nobu Manila’s head chef Michael de Jesus and head sushi chef Keiichi Hirukawa to create the meal, which also incorporated Filipino flavors.
Dishes on the eight-course menu include Octopus Ajillo with red Onion Salsa; Norwegian Salmon with Karashi Su Miso; Sushi Cup Selection (Tuna Adobo, Tachiuo with Sakura Petal, Ika Noodle, and White Fish XO Salsa and Tamago); Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno and Yuzu Soy; Umami Sea Bass with Green Papaya Salsa; and Wagyu Beef with Adobo Sake-Mirin Reduction, Nasu, and Roasted Garlic.