The room of Matsuhisa at the Raffles Royal Monceau

Few may have heard the name Matsuhisa, but surely no one is indifferent to the diminutive of Nobuyuki Matsuhisa“NOBU”, the Joel Robuchon or Gordon Ramsay of the Japanese cuisine.

Nobu became a celebrity after opening his Matsuhisa in Bervely Hills, in 1987, becoming famous among the Hollywood stars and ending up friends and partner of Robert De Niro. Together they created and took the “Nobu” name to the entire planet with around 40 restaurants and some hotels.

But to understand the success and the cuisine of this Japanese master you need to go back in time to his young years, when after several years studying and working in restaurants in Tokyo he was convinced to emigrate to Peru, where he was amazed by an infinity of ingredients that he started to include in his Japanese dishes – the current and so famous Nikkei style.

On to the present time, more precisely to the opening of Matsuhisa Paris, in the Royal Monceau Palace Hotel, the only restaurant of the chef in France, after a bad experience with a Nobu in 2001.

Nothing was left to chance, with the former French restaurant of the hotel suffering some changes to receive a team of sushi masters headed by Hideki Endo, who previously worked at the Hong Kong restaurant. The decoration is the same, also is the spirit, with Starck mixing the light, the chrome and the wood to his good style.

Taking advantage of a summer afternoon in Paris, we chose the terrace, also signed by Starck, being the meeting point between the Bar, the Matsuhisa and the Il Carpaccio (the Italian restaurant of the hotel, with a Michelin star). There’s even an iron sculpture, to the style of Alice in Wonderland, created by the Portuguese Joana Vasconcelos!

Already comfortably installed, we opted to follow some of the team’s suggestions, among some news and the classics of the chef.

Yellowtail with jalapeño, soy and yuzu sauce (29€)

From the first dish you can understand the fusion idea of Nobu, combining a sashimi of excellent quality with the slightly spicy jalapeño and the salt and freshness of the soy and yuzu sauce. A great, great start!

Salmon Tataki, karashi su-miso ( 22€)

Excellent quality salmon, elegantly cut over a karashi su-miso sauce, aka a miso to which is added a Japanese mustard (karashi). Strong flavor, nicely shapped so the salmon is not lost in the sauce. Umami, Umami!

Spinach Salad, dry miso, truffle oil and parmesan (24€)

Probably the simpler and unexpected dish we tasted. Baby spinach leaves, raw, seasoned with a light touch of truffle oil (that I usually can’t stand), dry miso and parmesan, the result is a fresh dish, light with lots of flavor, and also a nice pairing for some dishes to come.

Crispy rice with salmon tartar (26€)

A species of Japanese Arancini, with the lighter and acidic side of the sushi rice, prepared in cubes and wonderfully fried. To go with, soy sauce and salmon tartar involved in the chef’s famous spicy cream (in reality it’s not very spicy). A fun dish and very well achieved in terms of textures and flavors.

Accompanying the first part of the meal was an Alsace Riesling, a Josmeyer Grand Cru Hengst 2009. A wine of bio-dynamic production, dry, with a great character, somewhat exotic with white fruit and some citrus, ending with a nice minerality. Great wine!

Rock Shrimp Tempura with spicy cream, mushrooms and lettuce mix (26€)

A shrimp cocktail from the 70’s to brace the current days. Unctuous and a bit sinful even, with a fresh side from the greens and lots, lots of flavour, from the sauce to the earthy notes of the mushrooms. A nice snack!

Niguiris –  Salmon, Yellowtail, Akamai (tuna) e Chūtoro (tuna) (varied price)

Excellent shari (rice), as well as the fish, with highlight to the quality of the Chūtoro (fat tuna). It was the classic moment of the lunch, proving that even in that field Matsuhisa‘s cuisine is up to the standards.

Black Cod with saikyo yaki (52€)

Probably one of the most famous dishes of chef Nobu, and a classic of the Japanese cuisine, particularly in Kyoto, from where the combo of miso, sake and mirin is from, commonly known as Saikyo Yaki, a kind of sweet miso in which the fish is marinated before roasted. In this case, the fish was perfectly cooked, with the usual layers of flavor and a buttery texture and a sort of sweet side from the sauce. Very good!

Accompanying was a Swiss Petite Arvine d’anze 2011 from Cave des Amandiers, a 100% petite arvine white, with a lightly oxidated color and a nose filled with honey notes, elderberry flower and lime, nicely shaped mouth, highlight to the acidity and minerality balancing well with the dishes, particularly the cod.

Mochi – Matcha, chocolate and blueberry (12€)

Involving the Mochi (rice cake, very glutinous, with a texture between gelatin and marzipan) is a tradition, here well accomplished with the matcha, blueberry and chocolate flavors. Simple presentation, careful, to the good Japanese style, with light flavors and balanced sugar.

Coconut Cheesecake, exotic fruits and acid yuzu juice (15€)

A dessert with a very Parisian presentation. A coconut cheesecake sphere filled with tropical fruits, of course with coconut and mango, a siphon cake and the delicious yuzu sauce, connecting and balancing all the elements. A great, great ending!

Accompanying was a classic and powerful Japanese plum licour.

The Service was the best we could get, the recommendations were great, relaxation with professionalism and rigour deserve an highscore as well as the good mood and some conversation details breaking any barriers between the team and the guests, not always easy in a luxury hotel and restaurant.

Final Remarks 
This new adventure of Nobuyuki Matsuhisa in Paris will certainly have a better faith than its predecessor, in a time the city is better prepared to open to new cuisines and experiences with the Japanese cuisine, together with is positioning in one of the best and trendiest hotels in the city, Raffles Royal Monceau, seeming to me a very right combination.

Whether you are a globetrotter used to the Nobu’s around the world, an avid grastronome or an European celebrity, you wont be indifferent to the flavour and ingredients of Nobu’s cuisine, mostly when worked and served as it was this lunch. A new success in town!

Matsuhisa – Raffles Royal Monceau
(33) 1 42 99 88 00
Av. Hoche, 37  – Paris

Versão Portuguesa

 Text: João Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses 

We were at Matsuhisa by invitation of Raffles Royal Monceau, whereas this not alter our work, being the opinion and the text of the exclusive responsibility of the author.

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