Feb 22, '07

Nobu’s Black Cod Index

Black cod
Black Cod with Miso Sauce taken in Nobu Berkeley, London.

Nobu’s food is something I am never tired of. Out of 16 locations around the world I have dined in 9 of them (5 of which are in the United States ).« Black cod with miso sauce » – Nobu’s signature and the most popular dish which also happens to be my favourite is identical everywhere, but costs everywhere differently. Small prices differences are normal considering that economies vary and finally it’s the free decision of each restaurant owner how to price their goods.

But during my last trip to London, I found the price of the black cod dramatically different. I dined two nights in Nobu: in Nobu Metropolitan and in the newly opened Nobu Berkeley (which design, I must say, is amazing) and the black cod with miso sauce costs £ 24 in both restaurants.
If we take the USD as a reference currency (21/02/07 exchange rates), here are the rough prices of black cod with miso sauce in some of the Nobus worldwide.

  • USA: $20 (I have been in most of Nobu locations in the USA and the black cod costs the same )
  • Tokyo $24.8 (3000 Yen)
  • Hong Kong $34 (HKD 268)
  • London $46.9 (£ 24)

Therefore, we can consider Nobu’s Black Cod price as the rough reference of the cost of living in each city (at least in the centre).  It is not that perfect as Big Mac Index as Nobu is present only in 6 countries while Mc Donald –in 120. But, somehow, Nobu is the” high-end McDonalds” as the restaurant’s interiors and dishes are everywhere the same… So I think the pricing of Nobu in each country can tell something about its economy. So why does the black cod with miso sauce costs so much more in London?

From these basic calculations, you can see that the cost of living in London (at least in the centre) is twice as high as in Tokyo and more than twice as expensive as in Manhattan. And I see one explanation. This is probably the result of the UK tax policy which allows foreigners to live in London and avoid paying full tax, while the UK citizens pay the full price of tax. One should not be surprised that all London’s central real estate is owned by foreigners, and most of the Ferrari drivers come from abroad. Meanwhile, the English are gradually pushed to the suburbs as they simply can’t afford to live in the centre…

I think it will be even more exciting when Nobu opens in more capitals. As its a great index of how the high-end restaurants pricing differs and, therefore, how the cost of living differs.

P.S. If somebody knows how much black cod costs in Nobu Milan and Nobu Mykonos, I would appreciate if you let me know. Like this,I could enhance my list 🙂

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