The origins of the vast Nobu empire lie in this amazingly modest Beverly Hills spot, which Nobu Matsuhisa opened in 1987, deftly mingling Japanese, Peruvian and European ingredients (among his then-groundbreaking sashimi: yellowtail garnished with jalepeño). The La Cienega Boulevard institution still serves many of the dishes that launched Matsuhisa’s career, including the fiery yellowtail and black cod with miso, along with intricate specials scribbled on a blackboard menu. Further up La Cienega, Nobu Los Angeles offers a more glammed-up, David Rockwell-designed setting to go with the fusion sushi.
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From the From the May 2008 Food & Wine Go List
Locals and Japanese tourists alike crowd this Waikiki offshoot of the famed Tokyo soba shrine for the nutty, al dente noodles. The restaurant grinds its own buckwheat flour and produces its soba behind a glass-partitioned bay on one side of the sleek dining room.
We loved: soba (cold noodles with a bowl of duck-studded soup).
Insider tip: The bar in the Matbaren area often has seats when the rest of the restaurant is booked.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.