Nobuyuki Matsuhisa was fluent in sushi by twenty, having learned the art from a string of internships at some of Tokyo’s best sushi bars. But Matsuhisa dreamed of seeing the world, and of being able to experiment with food away from the immovable traditions of Japanese cuisine.
He first left Japan for Peru, where he opened a sushi bar and began to explore indigenous ingredients, seasoning fish with chile oil and garlic, and giving birth to the peculiar style that would become his trademark.
After three years in Peru, Matsuhisa moved again and again, opening restaurants in Argentina, Japan, and even Anchorage, Alaska before settling down, which for this migratory chef means commuting between Los Angeles and New York, where he owns Matsuhisa and Nobu respectively.
Chef Matsuhisa’s restaurants, and the dishes he engineers, feature a totally unorthodox, completely unique vision that is part Japanese, part South American, and entirely sophisticated.
While his repertoire is always changing, Matsuhisa has fathered some wonderfully bizarre and renown dishes such as “funazushi,” freshwater trout buried in rice for one year, “squid pasta,” in which the squid is sliced to resemble, and therefore replace, the pasta, and “new style sashimi,” fish that is seared on the outside but still raw within, then marinated in olive oil and garlic.
As New York Times food critic Ruth Reichl puts it, Nobu “epitomizes the energy of the city,” and Chef Matsuhisa, with his renegade technique and international collage of flavors, does indeed embody the diversity, the cultural mix, and the excitement of two of the world’s least predictable cities.