Jean-Paul Choi, a passionate entrepreneur, created Nonbe – a restaurant that combines “Kaiseki” cuisine with an “Izakaya” atmosphere – to introduce people to the art of Japanese cuisine, which goes far beyond the sushi that everyone knows.
The story of Nonbe began with a passion. In 2013, Jean-Paul Choi discovered the world of sake. He tastes, learns, trains and even participates in competitions. Thanks to his 2nd place in the international competition for the best sommelier in 2014, he gained notoriety within the Japanese community in Luxembourg and discovered with pleasure all the facets of this culture, including gastronomy.
After several trips to the land of the rising sun, the owner decided to do everything possible to introduce authentic Japanese cuisine to the people of Luxembourg.
Nonbe in Japanese could be translated as Bon Vivant. “The actual term means ‘drunk,’ but not in a negative way, rather as one who has the pleasure of drunkenness!” In Japanese culture, meals are above all a time for sharing and taking time. This is the case in the “Izakaya” where groups meet for a drink while eating. There is no question of waiting for a dish, but rather everyone shares the various dishes that arrive in dribs and drabs on the table, to the rhythm of the kitchen.
To deliver an authentic dining experience, the owner knew he had to surround himself with people. A Japanese chef from Osaka took over the kitchen, “not without some apprehension because Western culture is very different from Japanese culture.” It therefore took him almost two years to really understand the organisation of a Western restaurant, but also the European palate, to adapt his cooking without making too many concessions.
“The technique of the chef takes time.”
On the ground floor, an interior decorated by a Japanese architect sets the tone. Large windows illuminate the room, which has long wooden tables to accommodate the many dishes to be tasted. In the centre, a central island topped by a chequered wooden cabinet allows customers to sit at the counter to eat while admiring the chef’s technique for preparing sushi, sashimi, or temaki. “Everything is open, even the kitchen, so that customers can see the work being done there. It helps to understand why you wait for certain dishes. The technique of the chef takes time.”
Proudly displayed on a whole wall, numerous bottles of sake and whisky say it all: here, we eat well but we also drink!
As you climb the steps leading to the upper room, the walls decorated with Japanese silk paintings already announce a change of atmosphere. Upstairs, you can discover traditional decor in an intimate setting with
16 covers (or more if needed) to immerse yourself for a few hours in a typical Japanese atmosphere. The tables are set in wooden boxes, covered with silk cloths in red, yellow, or blue tones, so that you can enjoy your dinner in complete tranquillity and concentrate solely on your meal. The windows are covered with white canvas panels with a wooden grid for a very soothing effect.
This Kaiseki menu, with no changes possible (apart from allergens), is only offered in the evening and must be booked one day in advance. “The Chef has carte blanche to express his taste, with intensities, and bitterness so that the uninitiated can find the typical food of a real Kaiseki.” To make sure you get the right balance of food on the plate, the staff are happy to point out the order in which to enjoy a dish.
For lovers of good bottles of all kinds, the owner of the place has a very special selection of French and Luxembourgish wines. Japanese whiskies are also on the menu, as well as about fifteen bottles of sake. All the ingredients are present to enjoy an evening of discovery of Japanese cuisine.
The owner is inexhaustible about sake and Japanese culture, so don’t hesitate to question him when he comes in. He will surely stop for a long time at your table, but that doesn’t matter, because at Nonbe, time stretches.
31, Porte de France — L-4360 Belval
Tel. +352 / 27 99 89 88