Nobu Dubai is sending a high-octane crew to the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The popular Japanese restaurant, located at Atlantis, The Palm, and part of a global network launched by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, will make its Abu Dhabi debut at the Yas Marina Circuit with a one-of-a-kind, one-off experience.
Throughout the three-day event, running from December 10 to 12, an exclusive group of up to 80 people per day will enjoy unlimited servings – through a la carte and degustation menus – of Nobu’s signature and new dishes while watching the race from some of the best seats in the house.
Such an experience comes with a steep price tag, which includes a guided pre-race track work, exclusive access to an exhibition of vintage cars, and tickets to all four after-race concerts at Etihad Park. The weekend package is valued at Dh13,500
A greatest hits menu
With such exclusive clientele, Nobu Dubai executive chef Damien Duviau says his team needs to be on point.
“We haven’t done something on such a small and exclusive scale. In the Singapore F1 a few years back, we catered for 3,000 people. Now we have less than 100 a day. In such a situation you cannot hide, so to speak. Each plate has to be perfect,” he says.
“This is why I am bringing the best of best from Nobu Dubai to Abu Dhabi. We are normally a team of 26 in the kitchen and I am bringing six because it’s a smaller space to work in at the circuit. This is our A-team.”
The same can be said of the nearly 30 dishes making the cut in Abu Dhabi.
Nobu fans will be overjoyed that the signature dish, the phenomenally flavoured black cod miso, features in the mix.
Other favourites on the starting grid include the luxurious Wagyu short ribs with truffle teriyaki sauce, the salmon, tuna and white fish sushi, and the salmon avocado with shrimp tempura roll.
The new off-menu dishes coming to the big race include a variety of mini tacos. Standout fillings include a decadent shrimp with wasabi and sour cream, while another potent combination is salmon with either dry or hot miso.
“We are trying to offer that variety to appeal to everyone’s palate,” Duviau says. “Some may not like food that is raw, so there are the hot options. Others may also want something light because they will be walking around the race area, so the mini tacos are also a good option.”
Like the pit crews on the circuit, Duviau says co-ordination and preparation among staff are paramount for a successful day’s serving.
“There will be some work being done in our Dubai kitchen, especially with the Wagyu short rib, which has to cook for 36 hours, and there will also be some preparation work with some of the fish,” he says.
“But everything will be sliced over at Yas Marina Circuit, as well as the making of all the sauces.”
Cooking for Nobu
Nobu Dubai joins a number of UAE gourmet establishments, including Dubai’s Tuscan restaurant Il Borro, in making an appearance at the Abu Dhabi Formula One race.
What’s the benefit of getting involved? “The visibility is important, for sure,” Duviau explains.
“This is a good way to show what we can do to an important audience. For one thing, this is our first time in Abu Dhabi, so we can give some of the people over there that Nobu experience. Also, many of the people that will be with us, you can say are VIP, so they may have this experience with us in Abu Dhabi and come visit our restaurants in Dubai or abroad like in London."
The award-winning chef Nobu is also set to make a three-day visit to his Dubai establishment from Monday, November 15, when Duviau and his squad will be put through their paces to ensure the Abu Dhabi venture is a win.
“Nobu is the one you really want to impress. He is the big chef and boss. When he is here, the atmosphere is different. There is more excitement and more stress to make everything more perfect. You don't want to make a mistake with him behind you,” he says.
“In a way, I am glad he is here before the F1, because if we can succeed with him then there will be less pressure by the time we get there.”
The Turn 1 Hospitality 3-day pass at the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix runs from Friday to Sunday, December 10 12. Tickets are Dh13,500, from www.yasmarinacircuit.com