Robert De Niro is having a problem. The renowned star of The Deer Hunter and Little Fockers is in Toronto to lend his name to Nobu Residences, a restaurant, hotel and condominium project that is soon to rise in the humming Entertainment District. He and his team – developers, executives, architect, designer, and the man himself, chef Nobu Matsuhisa – are perched on two rows of tall director’s chairs, feet suspended above the ground.
Mr. De Niro is holding a water in one of those small, square bottles that usually signify high price and exquisite eco-consciousness. He doesn’t know where to put it. There is no table. The arms of the chair are too narrow. He looks left, he looks right, making a slightly exasperated expression that is instantly familiar to students of his vast, perhaps over-vast, oeuvre. Finally, he hits on a solution. Bending forward, he lodges the bottle between his black-loafered feet. The press conference can begin.
Those who have followed Toronto’s seemingly endless real estate boom are no longer surprised by the hype that greets every new “exclusive,” “unique,” “world-class” condo project that graces the city. Mr. De Niro’s Nobu takes things, as its backers might say, to a whole new level. A publicity brochure the size of a coffee table art book says that “Nobu represents the perfect balance between elegance and excitement, luxury and comfort, design and simplicity.” It promises a “distinctly laid-back sophistication” and “a lifestyle experience that has no parallel.” A photo shows Chef Nobu sprawled grinning and barefoot on the white sheets of a Nobu bed.
In person, the project’s backers are no less grandiloquent. The developers say that the words “one of a kind” are thrown around a lot but, “we truly mean it.” Nobu will be a “curated residence” that is “dedicated to sophisticated living.” Those lucky, or rich, enough to live there will be able to immerse themselves in the “sense and sensibility” of the Nobu lifestyle.
Interior designer Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge says he finds a kind of serenity here, a timelessness. There is a beautiful word to describe it, he says: “Authenticity.” The project will even have private entrances for exclusive guests. He leans on each word as he tells the media that Nobu is “something this city … just … has … not … seen.”