Nobody but Nobu

Jamie Gwen | August 23, 2017 | Feature Features

The famed Japan-born chef is wowing diners at his first O.C. restaurant in Lido Marina Village.
The experience begins even before you dine thanks to the gorgeous architecture of the more than 16,000-square-foot space.

THE RESTAURANT YOU'RE about to experience is, in a word, exquisite. From the fantastically fresh fish and the opulent design to the superb harbor views and the outstanding service, Nobu has set sights high for incomparable sushi in Newport Beach.

The only O.C. outpost of Nobu Matsuhisa-san’s international faction of hip establishments is nestled in Lido Marina Village—a two-story masterpiece, with 180-degree vistas of sailboats and Duffys gliding through the water. The build-out is magnificent, with an open-air feeling and eye candy everywhere. You’ll find a sprawling cocktail lounge on the lower level, with a patio bar bearing the moniker Grand Cordon, highlighting elitist cocktails exclusive to the space. The spectacular spiral staircase takes you to the second floor, where you’ll find a fab sushi bar and remarkable dining in its most literal form.

Matsuhisa has a humble story. The man credited with reinventing Japanese cuisine in the United States was born in Japan, and at 24 years old he debuted his first restaurant, with a Peruvian partner, paving the way for his style of fusion to ignite gastronomes’ palates. He took his method to Alaska and opened an eatery, which was immediately destroyed by a fire, almost ending his rise to fame. In 1987, he created his first signature spot, Matsuhisa, in Beverly Hills—and the rest is history. With 47 restaurants and six hotels worldwide, the Nobu empire spans 22 countries. And, of course, there’s O.C.

If you’re visiting for dinner, step in early afternoon to soak up the sun. Stop at the Grand Cordon Bar and sip a Sol Amigo, an award-winning drink from Nobu’s mixologists, comprised of Casamigos Reposado Tequila, Maraschino Liqueur, lime and agave, a floating island of whipped egg white, a splash of grapefruit juice and a drop of orange bitters. It’s a perfect start to the night.

Japanese and Peruvian flavors syndicate on the hot and cold menu, modestly designating the fish, meat or vegetable and the simple prep. But the dishes are anything but simple—rather, each one is complex. The sake selection follows suit. It’s an impressive list complete with the YK35, an unfiltered and rare find. Order a masu, the wooden box that overflows with the spirit, for good fortune, and plan your meal. There are so many don’t-miss offerings.


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