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Today’s tradition of Nobu’s Japanese Restaurant in University City began nearly 40-years ago and more than 4,000 air miles away, at a Sheraton hotel in Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii.

In the early 80’s, before Todd Rundgren even thought to bang on the drum all day, Nobu Kidera was preparing the most sought-after sushi for Waikiki tourists in the style of his native Japan. He was good at it. Very good. So good, in fact, he and his young bride, Taeko, decided to load Nobu’s sushi knives and their young son, George, onto a Saint Louis- bound flight and give the middle of the mainland a try.

In 1983, Nobu walks on as the sushi chef for Tachibana at Fee-Fee and Olive. Four years later, he launches Nobu’s at 8202 Delmar in 900 square feet, across from the original location of Pasta House Company. Spoiler alert: Nobu’s thrives, and as the 3-year lease expires, Nobu’s nearly triples its size and re-launches in their iconic location at 8643 Olive, anchoring the western end of U City’s blossoming Asian restaurant scene. [A collective cheer commences and is sustained for the next 29.5 years.]

L-R, George, Nobu, Taeko, and Michael Kidera.

Think on that for a moment; for nearly 30 years, Nobu’s was the definitive Japanese dining experience in, not only University City, but in all of Saint Louis.

Nobu Kidera grew-up and came of age in Japan. He experienced the street food, the real food of his native land. He honed his skills in the global epicenter of sushi, and he traveled, in two hops, across the Pacific to perch his talents — first and second on Delmar and Olive Boulevards, and now, again, on Delmar — right here, in our fair city. Nobu’s has been an institution here since before the world ever met Nirvana, Pearl Jam, or the Counting Crows. Nobu’s has been our Japanese restaurant through five presidential administrations, four economic recessions, and one global pandemic.

And now, in a matter of weeks, Nobu’s will open in its next iteration. Again, right here, U City-loyal, at 6253 Delmar Boulevard, under the same roof as The Lofts and across the walkway from Peacock Diner. But now, the generational handoff begins: Nobu, while still actively involved, will pass the torch to his son, George.

There will be nothing quite like it in the STL metro. From product quality to impeccable presentation to a beautifully designed and furnished minimalist environment, Nobu’s 3.0 promises to tickle the senses and to absolutely delight.

George, who was born in Hawaii between Nobu’s sushi shifts at the Sheraton. George, who grew up in Saint Louis, lived as an American ex- pat in Japan for 2-years before relocating to Thailand for 7-years as a Japanese ex-pat; before returning to the middle of the mainland, raised in his father’s culture of southern Japanese and family comfort food, and well-marinated in Asian culinary tradition. THAT George will carry his father’s familiar legacy into an exciting future along with U City; the evolution of our remarkable restaurant in our remarkable community.

The Kidera family — Nobu, Taeko, George, and Michael — has created something very special in University City and has shown tremendous resilience through all manner of economic, political, and culinary cycles. Nobu’s has been and will remain as central to our collective U City experience as anything on the Loop.

acknowledgements

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