Feel like a fancy meal that doesn’t come with a high price tag?
A new concept called Black Cod & Wagyu is aiming to offer just that by promising to make luxury food affordable. Backed by the team behind Burger & Lobster, this week it launched a residency in Soho, which will run until at least the end of the year due to huge demand, with no scheduled shutdown date.
Taking over the bar area of Zelman Meats in St Anne’s Court, Black Cod & Wagyu’s menu, developed by executive head chef Olly Bird, will feature a traditional Japanese dish of black cod cooked in miso and 200g wagyu steaks (both £15 at lunch or £20 at dinner).
While you can pick up a wagyu rump steak from Iceland supermarket for £8, if you’re dining out in London it’s a much pricier affair. Restaurants like Tokimeitē in Mayfair, which is headed up by Michelin-starred chef Yoshihiro Murat, has a 200g wagyu steak that will set you back £90, while steak specialist M Grill sells 250g of the inside skirt of wagyu for £35.50, increasing to £75 for a 200g sirloin.
Black Cod & Wagyu’s ethos is also at odds with the super premiumisation of wagyu happening in America, as Food Spark reported back in July. There, a restaurant called Don Wagyu is selling a wagyu katsu sando – a sandwich made from high-quality Japanese beef fried in panko crumbs – for $180 (£136).
But the pop-up isn’t looking to be a one-hit wonder. Five starters will also be on Black Cod & Wagyu’s menu: tiger prawn tempura, lobster croquetas, hot and sour wagyu beef tartare, tuna tartare and burrata. Side dishes will include som tam (papaya salad) and lobster fried rice.
The restaurant can seat up to 30 people and bookings can be made not just online, but also, in a nod to the millennials, on Instagram.
A genuine steak
Black Cod & Wagyu insists no corners will be cut in delivering the highest-quality experience. Matching its decadent offering, diners are served inside a room decorated with huge fish tanks and Japanese-inspired illustrations, while the food is presented on vintage-style china.
But what’s the secret to Black Cod & Wagyu being able to offer the affordable meals?
“The prices are being kept low by buying in bulk – an initial order of one tonne each of black cod and wagyu – and a deliberately low mark-up. The sincere aim of the residency is to offer a genuine experience to either people who love these dishes or to those that have never tried them,” a spokesperson for Black Cod & Wagyu tells Food Spark.
“The wagyu being served is mostly Australian picanha at grades 5-7, but the restaurant will also be using all their suppliers – about 15 – to at different times offer Japanese, British, USA and South American wagyu based on availability and quality, and these premium cuts will be individually priced.”
Is Sparkie sharpening his steak knife on this one?
Can a premium product sold at a cheap price still be called a premium product? There is a whole branch of psychology that states that we think better of something when we pay more for it. This applies to any purchases, not just food, but when it comes to food, a higher price has been repeatedly demonstrated to positively influence the sensory response. If I were a customer, I would be questioning everything!