The ever-gracious Nobu Matsuhisa was all smiles and blushes when I bumped into him at the entrance of Atlantis The Royal on Friday afternoon, where I wished him good luck for the launch of his namesake restaurant later that night.
Little did I know that the Japanese chef would partake in a 15th-century ritual that invokes good fortune smack bang in the middle of the Royal Bridge Suite at Atlantis, The Palm, which is now home to the largest Nobu restaurant in the world.
Surrounded by VIPs, including Kendall Jenner, Liam Payne and Jonathan Cheban, Matsuhisa and Nobu co-founder Meir Teper initiated the kagami biraki ceremony, which involves the breaking and opening of an enormous barrel of sake.
The duo brandished wooden mallets and cracked open the enormous lid, then passed around the fermented rice beverage in traditional masu cups, even as Japanese Taiko drummers set a celebratory tone.
Jenner was the shining star of the evening, with chef Matsuhisa even paying ode to her in his opening speech, much to the crowd’s delight. “Thank you for coming. I like to share Japanese traditions and cultures the world over, which is why tonight we have the sake ceremony. We always do this to open every Nobu. The ceremony means ‘happy day’, and today is a very happy day as we have Kendall Jenner here to help us launch the new Nobu at Atlantis Dubai. Enjoy the party,” Matsuhisa said.
Guests mingled over cocktails; canapes, including Nobu’s signature black cod with miso, spicy salmon miso tacos and tuna sashimi; and mini pavlova, mochi and chocolate spring rolls for dessert.
The restaurant will open to the public from Monday, but good luck getting a table this month.
For reservations, call 04 426 0760; www.atlantis.com/dubai/dining/nobu