Given that I’m currently looking for a job and trying to cut back on the finer things in life, Nobu is probably the last place I deserved to be. But a Saturday night treat was in store. After a brief cock-up with the taxi which meant I had to dash to the tube so that rather than pulling up smoothly outside of the front door, I arrived sweating and out-of-breath, I found myself strolling though the heavily manned grand white entrance, and stepping inside the world of Nobu.
I joined the rest of my crowd standing by the bar using the light from their phones to read the menu. We asked a passing waiter if there were any tables we could sit at, and even though there were about ten spare, he still took time to look us up and down before saying he’d see what he could do. Five minutes later he returned and gave us the best seat in the house. We had arrived early for a few cocktails and a chance to soak the place up, and the table we had was ideal for people watching. It’s hard not to be taken by the place, with the seductive lighting, the blasting funky house music and the crowd of wealthy and glamorous people. You could easily be in a Vegas nightclub, or on the set of Made In Chelsea. So we sat back and observed the catwalk to the toilet. A little note before coming is that you really do need to practise that strut.
We ordered four desserts- a banana split that supposedly had a saffron crumble, the Nobu Chocolate Tart that comes with all of the show of pouring hot chocolate sauce onto a chocolate sphere, melting it to reveal the tart beneath, Mochi (Japense rice cake) filled with coconut ice cream that were by far the best, and the last was some sort of trifle with a green tea sponge. The desserts were tasty and quickly demolished, as anything drowned in rich chocolate sauce would be.
Overall the food was great, without anything really standing out. It was how good Japanese should be- fresh, clean cut and simply presented. But you can probably count the price of each bite at Nobu, which works out at about £5. The portions here are designed for the tight waisted glamorous women who eat here, and you’ll need to order at least 3-4 dishes per person to get your fill.
What really lets Nobu down is the service. Three times the waiter whisked away food before we had finished. And not once was there any real attempt to make us feel welcome. At 15% service charge, the highest I’ve seen in London, it should be a lot better. All I can think is that service is their way of making you pay for the privilege of being there, of being allowed through those front doors into this glamorous world.
I’d recommend Nobu to everybody, not for the food, but just to see it and so that you can say you’ve been. I have complained about the prices, but I will inevitably go back. You can’t not enjoy yourself. The atmosphere is infectious. That’s what Nobu is. You’re paying for an experience. You give them a hundred pound a head, and for two hours you feel like part of the in-crowd, and I guess for a lot of people that is enough to keep them going back. There are far better Japanese restaurants in London, and even if you want to pay top prices, you’re much better off doing so at Zuma, Hakkasan or Roka, but Nobu still has a glamorous appeal to it, and you leave feeling more than satisfied (although admittedly still slightly hungry).