Actor Robert De Niro and Chef Nobu Matsuhisa gather for a photo opportunity at a press event in Toronto to publicize Nobu Toronto, which is marketed as the first intergrated Nobu Residences, Nobu Hotel and Nobu Restaurant, on Tuesday, May 30 , 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Nobu Toronto executives not concerned about bubble

TORONTO — Actor Robert De Niro, celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa and a cavalcade of development executives are betting huge on Toronto despite outside concerns about a real estate bubble in the city.

The group behind the star-powered Nobu Toronto — which includes 660 condominium suites, a hotel and the first Nobu Restaurant in Canada — attended a press conference in Toronto on Tuesday where they dismissed suggestions that breaking ground on their luxury establishment next year might be ill-timed if the market starts to falter.

Josh Zagdanski, vice-president of Toronto-based developer Madison Group, said he believes buyers will consider a condo in the Nobu development an asset worth hanging onto.

“The core value in any real estate investment is the location and the lifestyle that comes along with it — this definitely has both aspects,” said Zagdanski.

Starting at roughly $400,000 for the smallest units and ranging up to $2 million, the hybrid living space won’t be suited to everyone’s budget. The Nobu brand grew from a New York restaurant into a stable of high-end eateries and hotels around the world, driven by the chef’s strong reputation and De Niro’s Hollywood clout.

Both Matsuhisa and the famously terse actor gave an otherwise standard condo launch an extra dose of star power, answering bizarre questions about whether the hotel will deliver sushi to a guest’s room at 1 a.m. or if De Niro planned to slip on a tank top and lay bricks during construction.

“You will, you will,” De Niro nodded. “I’ll try my best.”

Behind the star-gazing aspects of Nobu’s high-profile launch is an ambitious plan by Matsuhisa to rapidly expand his real estate footprint across the globe with a strong focus on his hotel brand.

While Toronto marks Nobu’s first experiment of combining a hotel and residences in the same development, there’s already another one in the works in Los Cabos, Mexico. The chef said working with the executive team that’s building his namesake brand is similar to tying the knot.

“We are like married,” he said. “And now we have to make more babies.”

Even without a presence yet in Toronto, Nobu has left an indelible impression on some locals, most recognizably Drake, who sings the praises of the fine-dining establishment on a number of his tracks.

“Can’t get Nobu, but you can get Milestone,” he rapped, juxtaposing the menu’s exotic dishes against the faux-fancy offerings of Canadian chain Milestones, on his 2017 track “Gyalchester.” He’s also sneaked Nobu name drops into his album with Future, and superficially pointed out the Malibu location on YG’s ”Who Do you Love?”

“He’s a big fan,” insists Meir Teper, a film producer who left Hollywood to join De Niro in getting Nobu off the ground.

While the Japanese chef has stayed in other Canadian locales like Vancouver and Victoria, he said the Nobu launch event on Tuesday marked his first time visiting Toronto. The nuances of the local food scene are still a mystery to him, but Matsuhisa said he’s already confident there’s space for his trademark up-market Japanese-fusion dishes.

“People have good taste. People understand quality,” he said.

“We just started the project, but when we open we can find more details.”

De Niro said he’s attended the Toronto International Film Festival and has shot movies in the city but still has plenty to learn about the local culture.

The “Taxi Driver” star said he’s getting a free unit in the development, which could mean the New Yorker will swing by the city more frequently.

“Toronto’s a great city. It’s got a great film festival,” he said.

“It’s a great city and an important city.”

Just Posted

Construction underway at Medicine River Wildlife Centre in Red Deer

The new building is twice the size of the old one

Fish for free

No license is required to ice fish on Family Day weekend

Music industry struggles to shake ugly legacy of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll

TORONTO — Allegations of sexual misconduct swirling around pop-rockers Hedley have put… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer rings in the Chinese New Year

A couple hundred fill Festival Holiday to ring in the Year of the Dog

WATCH: From humble beginnings Red Deer-based wrestling promotion is growing

It wasn’t that long ago that Dylon Featherstone and the Canadian Wrestling… Continue reading

WATCH Replay Red Deer Feb. 18: Your weekly news highlights

Watch news from Red Deer and Central Alberta

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Life or death main decision for school shooting suspect

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The evidence against the Florida school shooting suspect… Continue reading

Man who stole millions from Seabird Island band sentenced to 4.5 years jail

Stephen MacKinnon sentenced in Chilliwack court for stealing $2.3 million over eight years

Vancouver artist’s cartoon of Florida school shooting resonates

Cartoon shows football coach, one of the victims, meeting others killed in school shootings

B.C. man brings dog to court as ‘best witness’

Man is defending himself on charges of uttering threats, possessing weapon for dangerous purposes

WATCH: Polar dippers brave icy water to raise money for Sylvan Lake charities

The water may have been cold, but the amount of money raised… Continue reading

WATCH: Cat yoga — the purr-fect de-stresser, says Red Deer-area cafe owner

Felines and humans stretch together each month at Alley Cat Cafe

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month