While most of the restaurant news lately has been dominated by closings caused by the pandemic, 2020 has had a few bright spots. Nobu (854 W. Randolph St.), the latest high-end sushi outlet from chef Nobu Matsuhisa, is all set to open Thursday. It’s located inside the gleaming new Nobu Hotel Chicago, the recently completed 12-story project that stands proudly in the middle of West Loop’s restaurant row.
Nobu is nothing if not ambitious. With 10,000 square feet of space, it features multiple rooms, including a lounge, a dining room, a 28-foot stone sushi bar and two private dining rooms. The space designed by Modif Architecture in collaboration with Studio K is being described as a mix of “Japanese minimalism with West Loop urbanity.”
This is certainly not the first Nobu location. Matsuhisa created the restaurant empire with Meir Teper and Robert De Niro (yes, that De Niro) in New York back in 1994. Now Nobu has more than 40 locations spread across five continents, from Moscow to Mexico City and Dallas to Dubai. But this is the first outlet in the Midwest.
Over email, Matsuhisa declared Chicago “truly world-class in every way.” While he politely declined to identify his favorite restaurants in the city, he says that he has visited on a “few occasions” and is “inspired” by the restaurant scene.
The menu’s main focus will be on sushi, though there are some playful items like raw fish tacos and some larger entrees. In fact, Matsuhisa’s most famous dish is probably black cod with miso. The menu even features a collection of Japanese A5 Wagyu. While there won’t be any new dishes on the menu, Matsuhisa says that there will be some items that are “only available in very few, select markets.” That includes crispy shiitake salad with goma dressing, kampachi basic rocoto soy and prime tenderloin miso ponzu.
Of course, opening a restaurant during a pandemic presents a whole range of issues, from mask requirements to limitations on the number of guests allowed inside. Matsuhisa explains that his team has taken the issue “very seriously.” He even thinks that the rules imposed by the pandemic have only “strengthened our guest experience.”
The restaurant officially opens on Thursday. It will then be open for dinner Sunday to Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m. It’ll also be open for lunch Friday to Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Nobu Restaurant, 854 W. Randolph St., 312-779-8800, noburestaurants.com/chicago/
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