Fish Taco | A Short Diary of Nobu Beijing

I received no invite to the Nobu Beijing opening party in 2011 even though I ‘broke’ the story about the restaurant coming to our fair city. My earlier comments about Nobu’s error-filled website probably didn’t help although it should be noted those errors remain seven years later. (I hope dinner service is faster than that.) Anyway, Nobu couldn’t stop me from imagining its opening party, one complete with fish tacos, so here is a fictional diary.

5:11

Ate a fish taco: It felt as though the essence of the Pacific Ocean exploded in my mouth, minus the radiation from Japan, of course.

5:14

Ate a second fish taco: This one felt a bit more Atlantic. Multi-ocean flavor explosions. Brilliant.

5:19

Met a half-dozen women I know from my pilates class. I kiss each on both cheeks, which equals twelve cheeks in less than 30 seconds. This party is already awesome / the event of the year / full of beautiful people, including me. (It’s all relative, they say.)

5:27

My third fish taco. These are a hit. It is as though an artist took one hundred fish, extracted the most delicious one percent of each, and used those parts to construct the most epic taco of all time. Imagine a master Swiss watchmaker painstakingly handcrafting fine timepieces from one hundred tiny parts. Except the watches are tacos and are hard to keep on your wrists.

5:42

I run into Lee Mack and Blake Stone-Banks from City Weekend. They double-kiss me. Cheeky buggers. They just made a deal to extend their line of track suits / opening party wear to include an outfit called The Nobu. The pockets perfectly fit a fish taco.

5:56

That fourth fish taco was so delicious I’d eat it again even if that meant every panda in China exploded and left a crater the size of Wuhan. That’s how utterly incredibly inexplicably delectable it was.

6:03

Matsuhisa Nobuyuki is less than two meters away. I want to tell him I changed the name of my pet goldfish from Finding Nemo to Finding Nobu in honor of a certain you-know-who but lack the nerve. I just stand there quietly and breathe deep and I tell you—the man emits a special aroma. He wafts cuisine. He is the master taco-maker. And he smells like it.

6:10

Mmm fish taco. These are so good it seems like the kitchen team is trying to give us multiple mouth orgasms. A guy near me excitedly says, “They should call it The Nobukkake.”

6:11

Spilled that last fish taco on my burgundy cashmere smoking jacket. I will never wash it again.

6:12

I still can’t believe it: I SMELLED NOBU!

6:15

Special guest Jackie Chan glances my way and I say, “You lookin’ at me?” He giggles at my joke about Nobu investor Robert DeNiro. I ask where DeNiro is and, after faking a few Raging Bull-like punches to my chest and giving me a double kiss, he says, “Probably at The Den. You know him and half-price pizza.” We both sigh.

6:22

No fights yet. Interesting.

6:31

I’ve double-kissed over 120 women so far. Exotic given most hail from countries where it isn’t even the custom. I break out my third Chapstick.

6:42

I spot executive chef Oyvind Naesheim. I approach and say, “Hey, we’re Facebook friends!” He ignores me and continues a heated argument on puffer fish. I might have stumbled onto the next big thing: the puffer fish taco.

6:46

Oops, just got an SMS. Only 45 minutes left for happy hour at Flamme. Gotta run and get some of those 25-kuai Vespers…

[This diary, lightly edited, was first published April 8, 2011.]

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