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1990s Luxury Restaurant Emulator Will Pop Up in Soho

Miso black cod and wagyu beef will be the order of the (present) day

Miso black cod made famous by Nobu and Japanese wagyu beef from Black Cod and Wagyu, which will pop up at Zelman Meats Soho, London Thomas Bowles

Black Cod and Wagyu, a restaurant residency serving black cod and wagyu, will pop up at Zelman Meats in Soho from 1 October.

The two premium ingredients will be served at knockdown prices, with traditional Japanese dish and Nobu signature black cod cooked in miso sitting alongside 200g wagyu beef steaks at £15 and £20 a pop — the lower price at lunch and the higher at dinner.

Black Cod and Wagyu’s black cod and wagyu will be complemented by an eclectic / gap year roster of starters and sides, including Japanese tiger prawn tempura, Italian burrata, Thai som tam salad, and Spanish lobster croquetas. The stated aim is to make premium ingredients “accessible and affordable” — executive head chef of Zelman Olly Bird has sourced wagyu largely from Australia, but individually priced specials from around the globe — including Japan — will be available.

Zelman Meats restaurateur Dave Strauss is no stranger to inventive pricing strategies: in April 2018, his Old Bailey restaurant began running discounts as high as 50 percent on premium cuts of beef, not for money, but morale: “It’s definitely more fun to lose money with a fuller restaurant,” he said then. That restaurant closed in July, but Strauss’ refreshingly honest approach to the realities of running a restaurant in the current market downturn is a credible alternative to a slew of CVAs, multiple site closures, and pre-packaged sales.

Largely thanks to Nobu Matsuhisa’s eponymous restaurant empire, black cod has become synonymous with a particular kind of luxury in the western world: flashy, brash, excessive. But the Japanese technique on which Matsuhisa’s dish is based is, in fact, decidedly economical: the fish is marinated in kasu, the lees by-product of sake production. Wagyu, meanwhile, is still synonymous with money for most of the London restaurant population, most commonly found in glass towers, which serves it as an “experience” for £1,000.

In America, the meat has recently experienced something of a culinary rehabilitation, now celebrated for its quality and authenticity rather than the perceived status it might once have conferred.

Black Cod and Wagyu will run until London diners get tired of luxury ingredients at knockdown prices.