By Elicia Ye
On a scale of zero to Nobu, how invested have you been in keeping up with the Kardashians’ diet?
I have yet to watch an episode of “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” and I don’t follow any of the Kardashian-Jenners on social media. But when Managing Editor of News Anne-Marie Hwang ’19 mentioned that Nobu, a favorite restaurant chain amongst the Kardashians, had opened a location at the Epiphany Hotel in Palo Alto, I couldn’t help but wonder why. Nobu has routinely garnered attention and adoration in cities that either boost the entertainment industry or serve as vacation destinations—places like New York, Los Angeles, Dubai and Monte Carlo. Why would it appeal to the Silicon Valley, home to an abundance of high-tech businesses and start-up companies, an alternative crowd?
For more context, here’s a brief glance at some recent pages of the Kardashians’ food diary: Nobu edition.
Location: Nobu in Malibu, unless stated otherwise.
May 29, 2016
Kanye West attacks paparazzi as his family leaves the restaurant after brunch with John Legend, Chrissy Teigen and their one-month-old daughter Luna. He repeatedly yells unprintable words and fends the press off “private property,” also known as Kim’s white Range Rover HSE.
Jan 13, 2017
Location: Nobu Dubai at Atlantis, The Palm
After going to only an Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills during the past three months, Kim-Who-Just-Came-Out-of-Hiding is welcomed by eager diners taking photos of her and her crew.
May 24, 2017
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West celebrate their three-year wedding anniversary.
Additional comment: Jonathan Cheban, Kim’s best friend, said to Fox News that Kim, Khloe and Kourtney always want salad when they go out to eat, so he tends to suggest Nobu in order to avoid salad.
You catch my drift.
Dubbed “The Restaurant Chain of the Rich and Famous” by The Richest in 2014 and a “celebrity hotspot” by Fox News, Nobu has been frequented by various celebrities and political figures since its opening in Beverly Hills, Calif., in January 1987.
President Barack Obama and his family were seen dining at Nobu in Honolulu on Dec. 28, 2016, during their Hawaii vacation. Nobu was also featured on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” during an episode in which Fallon introduced country singer Blake Shelton to sushi for the first time.
Although Shelton thought the Sake and the tuna sushi tasted like “Easter egg coloring” and “Play-doh,” respectively, he seemingly enjoyed the pair. Fresh ginger, however, had the “texture of pre-chewed gum,” and he facepalmed after trying sashimi.
Given my apathetic, close-to-critical attitude toward the Kardashian-Jenners, I was skeptical about the quality of dining Nobu has to offer, only to realize later that the highly-acclaimed restaurant chain has humble beginnings originating with its founder, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
When Matsuhisa opened his first restaurant in Peru, he couldn’t find the ingredients he used back in Japan. To improvise, he incorporated Peruvian ingredients into Japanese dishes, the fusion of which forms the unique style of Nobu today.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1977, he opened Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills, which attracted many Hollywood celebrities including actor Robert De Niro, who offered Matsuhisa to open a Nobu restaurant in New York. The two kicked off the growth of the chain in 1993 with a new location set up in Tribeca, New York City.
Not unlike the process of starting a tech business, Matsuhisa realized his vision after receiving help from an investor and partner by demonstrating his innovation, hard work and dedication. The ideas embedded in Matsuhisa’s “start-up” have since propelled the creation of a global empire and will continue Nobu’s legacy in the Bay Area, where the values held by its inhabitants align with the restaurant’s background.
But why Palo Alto instead of San Francisco, where the location will be accessible to more tourists?
To bring the first Nobu to Northern California, Matsuhisa partnered with Oracle Corporation founder Larry Ellison, who bought the 86-room Epiphany Hotel for $71.6 million in September 2015. According to Eater San Francisco, “Ellison is already an investor and partner in Nobu Ryokan, one of Nobu’s other hotel properties in Malibu,” so Palo Alto naturally became a more realistic location choice than San Francisco or any other city in the Bay.
At 180 Hamilton Avenue, Nobu in Palo Alto is a smaller version of the original restaurant, with an intimate dining room, covered patio and bar. On the Sunday afternoon that I visited, the place was filled with mostly middle-aged couples and families. As posted on its website, signature Nobu dishes like Black Cod with Miso and Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño will be served at the new location along with other locally-inspired dishes.
Like any other restaurant on the pricier side, Nobu is not a place I would go to regularly, but rather for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries (four dollar sign price range, according to Yelp). With a three and a half-star rating, its future in the Bay Area is yet to be determined.
Contact Elicia Ye at eliciaye ‘at’ gmail.com.