Nobu Matsuhisa has more than 60 restaurant locations, including Matsuhisa in Vail |

Nobu Matsuhisa has more than 60 restaurant locations, including Matsuhisa in Vail

A selection of Japanese whiskey from the bar at Matsuhisa including, from left, Hibiki Suntory Whisky Japanese Harmony, The Yamazaki Single Malt Japanese Whisky and The Hakushu Single Malt Japanese Whisky.
Dominique Taylor | Special to th

If you go ...

What: Matsuhisa Vail, an upscale and grandiose dining room and sushi bar with a rustic urban aesthetic.

Where: Solaris Plaza, 141 East Meadow Drive, Vail.

Cost: Starters, sushi and sashimi $5-$34; entrees $17-$42.

Signature dish: Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno.

More information: Call 970-476-6628 or visit

Editor’s note: This article was previously published as a paid feature in EAT, a compendium of restaurant snapshots featuring the best in Vail Valley dining. Look for it on newsstands everywhere.

Matsuhisa has set the bar high for the Vail culinary scene for nearly a decade, and the acclaimed chef proprietor Nobu Matsuhisa has dramatically influenced the world’s appetite with a wide span of over 60 restaurants. What’s apparent within it all is how the dedication to quality and consistency leaves a heritage. So to that, we’ll raise a glass of Yamazaki.

The first commercial production of Japanese whisky began in 1924 upon the opening of the country’s first distillery, Yamazaki. Matsuhisa Vail carries a range of Japanese whiskies to try — including The Yamasaki Single-Malt — and while the spirits are quite the opposite of a clean and smooth sake, they provide a welcome complement to Nobu’s new-style Japanese cuisine.

“If you look at Japan and its topography, it’s very similar to Scotland,” explains Beverage Director Andreas Harl. “They are both essentially an island on the ocean, and Japan’s climate is very similar to Scotland’s.”

Veteran and aspiring whisky drinkers will find something that suits their taste with Harl’s diverse selection. The Hibiki Japanese Harmony is an approachable blend, and the The Hakushu Single-Malt carries much smokier characteristics.

From an impressive list of spirits and craft cocktails, to an innovative menu that draws influences from Tokyo as well as areas of South America like Peru and Argentina, Matsuhisa welcomes the most inquisitive palates.

Signature dishes like yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, black cod miso and white fish tiradito remain staples on the menu, and even frequent guests will never tire of the wide range of unique dishes available to taste. Start your table with an order of flash-fried shishito peppers and a bowl of king crab tempura.

Sake drinkers have a lot to choose from, with options like the TK40, and wine lovers can consult with Harl, an Advanced Sommelier. Cocktail connoisseurs will want to try the Gardner, a savory yet tart martini that sets a bright tone for dinner.

Order “From The Heart,” or the chef’s tasting of “Omakase,” and then you can be done making decisions. Those who want to still pick and choose can try the Nobu beef tacos on a crispy shell with a yuzu avocado puree, and Matsuhisa Vail’s signature and Peruvian-inspired sushi roll, the Tiradito.

Colorado lamb makes a bold appearance here as a hearty chop served with a mouthwatering Peruvian BBQ sauce, and lighter eaters will swoon at the baby spinach salad with grilled shrimp, dry miso and parmesan.

For dessert, make sure everyone gets at least a few spoonfuls of Nobu-style shave ice. And remember, there’s whisky.

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