Celebrity chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, aka Nobu, has been so absorbed in the opening of his new restaurant, NOBU, that he has had no time to explore the city yet. 'I saw the markets, but I haven't had the chance to get around them yet,' said the LA-based Japanese chef. It's his first restaurant in Asia outside of Japan. Why Hong Kong? 'It is very cosmopolitan and fashionable, just like New York and London. It's where my customers are,' he said at the press launch of the Japanese restaurant at the InterContinental on Wednesday. His fusion cuisine has won him loyal customers around the world, including Robert De Niro, Kenny G and Giorgio Armani, who all went on to become partners with him. 'Robert trusts my food,' he says self-assuredly. 'He knows good food.' So do Hong Kong people, as he observed. 'Hong Kong has an impressive food culture. People here know how to appreciate good food.' The restaurant had its soft launch at Christmas and Kate Moss, Edison Chen Koon-hei and Kelly Chen Wai-lam are among his customers. The official opening will be sometime after the Lunar New Year and Nobu will be back in Hong Kong on January 22. Famous for creating traditional Japanese dishes with a South American twist, would he next draw inspiration from China? 'I love Chinese food. I love the shark's fin, Peking duck and the noodles. So far I'd like to do the basics well first before exploring these new ingredients.'