Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Japan >
Jul 24, 2013 07:05 AM

Lunch at Nobu Tokyo

Being taken there for lunch next week - any thoughts or suggestions?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Don't. Pick one of 150,000 other places instead.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Uncle Yabai

      Thanks but it's not my choice. Your suggestion speaks volumes, however.....

      1. re: OGguy

        I can only second what Uncle Yabai said. I am amazed Nobu is still around in Tokyo, I wonder who keeps them in business.

        1. re: Asomaniac

          The same people who keep Gonpachi in business.

    2. Lunch was delicious. I had a salad, the black cod and some cold soba. Service was terrific and the room was comfortable. I'm thus a bit mystified by all the negative reactions to my original post.

      12 Replies
      1. re: OGguy

        Never been, but just seems like kind of a tourist ripoff international celebrity chain. Their website lists the black cod lunch set as being 3800 YEN which is at least twice as much as any normal establishment for this type of thing....And on top of this, the menu notes that they also tack on 10% service charge! ...やばい!!!

        1. re: Silverjay

          It may indeed be a tourist atraction and overpriced, but I was a guest and it was an excellent lunch. In my experience, the tourist traps don't bother trying to excel, except at relieving you of your money.

          1. re: OGguy

            Those are standard, easy dishes. So yes, they excelled at relieving your patron of their money. Shouldn't be a mystery why such a place faces some derision on a forum like Chowhound.

            1. re: Uncle Yabai


          2. re: OGguy

            The "black cod" is a simple dish commonly encountered just about everywhere, and done a lot better at Hasegawa than at Nobu, where it cost 980 yen. (The quality gap is not an assumption on my part - I was taken to Nobu several times in a work context so have had a chance to sample their offerings in Tokyo.)

            This is the reason for the negative reactions - Nobu is an absurdity to people who are local to Tokyo. (Though I do admire the brazen cheek of Nobu presenting the "black cod" to the world as some sort of original Nobu invention, and charging quadruple the normal price for it.)

            It's not that Nobu is a bad restaurant, in particular if you are used to the standards of restaurants outside of Japan. It's just that it is, judged by its peers in Tokyo, absolutely nothing special, but charges a lot more for the same or worse food. That is what makes it a tourist trap.

            If you had a good meal, terrific service and didn't pay for it, then that's great and you should obviously cherish the experience. Doesn't invalidate what was said on this board in reaction to your original post though.

            1. re: Asomaniac

              Good to hear some details from you on why it's unpopular, rather than an automatic write-off.

              I'd actually expected Nobu to do something "different" for its Tokyo outlet, compared to the ones in, say, New York or London.

              1. re: klyeoh

                I haven't been to the NY one, but the London one I think has much more of a reason to exist. Sure, it may be a favourite place of posers rather than food people, and it is overpriced, but it does something that other restaurants in London don't do, and the fish quality is actually good in comparison to other London restaurants, so I can see the point (even if for the price I would choose something different even in London).

                The Tokyo version feels a bit different (though they offer what I guess are the Nobu classics) but doesn't do anything that is so unique to the Tokyo market that it would justify the inflated price tag.

                1. re: Asomaniac

                  What is the origin of this grilled black cod dish? Did it come from Tokyo or Kansai somewhere? Isn't it known as gindara saikyo misozuke?

                  1. re: K K

                    Yes, gindara saikyo-yaki. I don't know the origin of the dish.

                    1. re: K K

                      Saikyo miso is originally from Kyoto. "Saikyo" technically means "Western capital" actually. It's sweet. Kansai tastes are supposedly sweeter than Kanto. And Kyoto is famous for food preservation, which is what the miso helps do to the fish. So I would guess it is a dish from that area. But apparently saikyo miso was popular with Tokugawa Shoguns, so who knows? Maybe it was invented in Tokyo....Gindara is often translated as black cod. These misozuke fish dishes are ubiquitous in Japan. You can buy various types at the supermarket.

              2. I have a friend that worked at Nobu and he told me the calculated ingredient costs cannot exceed 12% for any dish. So the ingredients in the black cod lunch at ¥3,800 cost the restaurant about ¥460. The 'Hounders who regularly eat out in Tokyo know that just by looking at the plate, that's why all the negativity. A 12% food cost isn't that big a deal when you're talking about a bowl of noodles, or if people with extraordinary skill are making the food, but the food at Nobu is chain restaurant food. Anyone can make it. It's not bad, it's just twice as expensive as most good Tokyo restaurants would charge for it.

                As a side note, is their Saikyo yaki cooked on charcoal? I think that it might not be. It definitely isn't cooked on charcoal at all their locations worldwide. If it's ¥3,000 and it's not cooked on charcoal that would be even more ridiculous.

                1 Reply
                1. re: la2tokyo

                  This has been a very interesting conversation. Thank you.