Nobu is a Japanese restaurant in Newport Beach. It speaks to Nobu Matsuhisa’s monumental influence on other chefs that his Peruvian-Japanese flavor profiles have proliferated and become commoditized, even in Orange County. But it might make you conclude that dining at Nobu now is like buying anything at Prada: you’re not paying for the raw materials, the labor, or the craftsmanship; you’re paying for the brand.
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The first time I encountered a Nobu restaurant, it was at Caesars Palace in Vegas. The next time, it was at the Four Seasons in Lana'i, Hawaii, and then at a fancy mall in Melbourne, Australia. All three times, I said to myself, "So...