Nobu is now a global brand. This means that when the waiters all call out the traditional Japanese welcome call to new guests arriving to dine, their call is echo-ed around the world by a bunch of other non-Japanese speaking Nobu waiters who all call out in their local dialect their pidgeon Japanese version of the welcome greeting. I don’t mind this. If I was Japanese I might take a different view. And the restaurant just about escapes the theme park designation because the quality of the food is pretty good. Certainly there is nowhere in London that you can find Yellowtail like it. But what does this do for us all and how little or large does it make me feel. In a way when I dine in this kind of Californian, Peruvian-Japanese home from home – it makes me pine for Matsuhisa on La Brea in LA or possibly for Nobu on the beach at Malibu – it scarcely reminds me of Japan – but perhaps faintly it does. Of course Nobu is now in Tokyo too – also perhaps as an oddity in its masterchef namesake’s homeland.
Having said all that – I still love it. There are now three Nobu restaurants in London – each more expensive than the last. No one can possibly justify the prices, but if it was my daily canteen I’d be happy – even if you do have to argue with the haughty girls behind the desk to get you a table at an hour you actually want – rather than when their computer tells them they might have a gap. The brains have been switched out for a massively smooth process – but the cocktails are good – and the food is excellent despite the staff!