Thursday 24 May, 2012

UPDATED: Do fresh fish and fresh sheets go together?


Las Vegas is about to find out.  On May 11, during the Vegas Uncork’d festivities, legendary Japanese chef/restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa formally announced the first Nobu Hotel, a boutique property nestled within Caesars Palace. Nobu isn’t the first restarateur to branch out into hotelling (Charlie Palmer comes to mind) but he’s certainly as high profile as they get, especially with Robert De Niro as a principal partner.


Nobu with a rendering of the modern open restaurant design

The actor wasn’t present at the press conference, but Chef Nobu was joined by Caesars Entertainment President Gary Selesner and introduced his management and culinary team for the adjoining Nobu restaurant (the largest ever) and 180-room hotel, a redsign of Caesars existing 70s-vintage Centurion tower.

My Interview about Nobu Hotel in AirTran's GO magazine

Showing renderings of the restaurant and rooms, Nobu explained that the evolution to hotelier wasn’t as big a leap as some might believe. A large number of his 29 restaurants (on 5 continents) worldwide are in hotel properties, so much of the operational aspects are familiar.

The Nobu restaurant, all 11,200 square feet of it, will include several teppanyaki tables (believed a first for Nobu) and nearly 330 seats. Hotel guests will be met at the entrance to Caesars, and will enjoy a separate exclusive registration system. And for the first time, Nobu will also be doing Room Service food. Overall design is being handled by David Rockwell.

Nobu hotel bedroom rendering

[UPDATE JUNE 11: Chef Nobu along with partners Robert DeNiro and Meir Teper revealed Designer David Rockwell's room renderings for Nobu yesterday in New York--no wonder he was so mum about them last month. I'm just inserting this update here rather than create a new post because, well, this is a food blog not a hotel blog. That said, let me lazily quote from the press release: "Surfaces will be comprised of wood tiles that extend through the elevator foyer and into the cabins – a single gesture that defines the entire hotel space. Schindler PORT elevator technology will transport hotel guests comfortably and efficiently using sleek touch-screens and a powerful traffic management algorithm resulting in fewer stops, less wasted energy and greater handling capacity. Hallways will feature patterned carpets designed to reflect elements of cherry blossoms and Japanese Zen gardens along with pleated wall coverings and custom fixtures inspired by origami...Designs will embrace comfortable simplicity with natural materials and textures counter-balanced with outsized elements to reveal a touch of Vegas flair. Neutral tones will set the room while hints of purple and aqua are emitted from multiple accent pieces, decorative pillows and artwork. Patterned beige-colored carpets will feature a strong, unconventional graphic designed to invoke sentiments of landforms, seascapes and active movements...Custom art by up-and-coming Japanese artists will feature a mix of traditional prints and expressionist designs, speaking to the link between traditional Japanese and modern art. The main focal point of the room will be the feature wall that displays a custom calligraphy....

Nobu says "Wash up!"

Bathrooms will feature rich teak fittings, stone tiles and modern fixtures throughout. An oversized walk-in shower comprised of traditional black Umi tiles will offer multiple shower heads and a teak bathing stool, a commodity seen in traditional Japanese bathhouses. Toto toilets and sinks that showcase custom freestanding concrete bowls set on wood plinth are designed to evoke a garden fountain. Luxurious bath amenities will include a selection of products by Natura Bisse in a signature rosemary and white tea scent designed exclusively for Nobu Hotel...The arrival experience will include personalized service with in-room iPad registration and a traditional hot tea welcome amenity. Custom-made Simmons mattresses will be adorned with luxurious, 100 percent Egyptian cotton Anichini percale linens and ultra-soft Down Dreams pillows. The unique turndown service will include his and hers yukata robes and slippers displayed bedside along with an exclusive Nobu Hotel blend of scented sleep oils." OK, I'm impressed.]

Chef Nobu had more to say about the new signature dishes that he would be serving at the restaurant (inspired by local products, but still Japanese in feeling) than specifics about the room amenities, but with an ex-Mandarin Oriental staffer in charge, expect impressive details. After all, it has to top Caesars’ existing Augustus and Octavius towers, not to mention their Rainman suites and other impressive offerings (Caesars may have more room classes than any other property in Vegas).

To whet appetites, Vegetable Marinated Umami Sea Bass and  Tuna Tataki Skewers were served with a Grapefruitini cocktail (Belvedere pink grapefruit vodka, St. Germain, Canton Ginger, lychee and pink grapefruit juices. If the rooms are anything like the sea bass, they will be billowy but rich, earthy and satisfying; if they evoke the tuna more, they will be decadent, layered and fanciful. Okay, somebody slap me.

The hotel and restaurant are expected to open late 2012. No solid date has been given, but assume that if your holiday plans are bringing you to Vegas, you’ll be able to enjoy both.

FYI, the original Nobu Las Vegas, at the Hard Rock Hotel, will still remain open.

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