Nobu Berkeley; rose; scallop taco

Last Saturday night was primed to be one of the highlights my culinary life. That is, aside from the inimitable Fat Duck, but that experience reigns supreme and blitzes any competition out of the stratosphere.

Last Saturday night, we went to Nobu. And not Nobu Park Lane, which I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying, but the reputedly superior Berkeley branch, what with its wood fired oven and all that shiz.

Well, primed as it may have been and good as the food was, my experience was still partially shattered by the fact that they now have a no photo policy.

I mean, come on food bloggers, all together now: WHAT. THE. FUCK.

This is something I find incredibly hard to understand. Well, wait a minute, let me back track and explain what exactly I find hard to understand.

Taking photos of chopsticks. SLAP.

Restaurants, especially certain “upper class” [read: snobby] restaurants slap this rule down on its clientèle ~ a no photo policy which is supposedly put in place so that when well known personalities dine there, they can dine in relative peace. That makes total sense to me, it does, really.

But what irked me about SNOBu’s latest no photo policy is that they’ve now banned the photographing of food. FOOD! Why? I mean, honestly, maybe I’m totally missing something here but what harm can come from someone taking photographs of food?

Firstly, they should be proud of their product, of producing something that looks and tastes amazing and if customers are in such awe of the creativity of the dishes that they are compelled to photograph it then hey, what a compliment, right? And while ok, so they’re not stupid, they know these photos aren’t going to sit on our C drives and grow dust bunnies, they know it’ll probably end up on a website one day (be it facebook or flickr or god forbid a food blog), but really, what harm is there if you’re proud of your product?

And if their concern is that the photos are going to be accompanied by bad reviews then honestly, I think the restaurant has more serious problems than a noob like myself photographing a fricking set of chopsticks.

Please. If I’ve missed the point, I would be happy for someone to explain it to me.

SNOBu. Before I got caught.

So I was excited to finally be at Nobu Berkeley. I’d heard stunning reviews about them and the exquisite dishes created in their unique wood fired oven, and could already taste the wagyu beef tataki as we walked into its pristinely groovy yet clearly upper class restaurant.

We started with a glass of rosé each as an aperitif while browsing the menu, and eventually decided to order a la carte as we weren’t quite up for the “surprise” of the tasting menu (that’s right, you don’t know what six courses you’re going to get).

Hey normally I like surprises but I’d only like this one if the surprise included wagyu beef tataki, cabbage steak truffle and black cod miso. Yeh, better safe than sorry.

scallop & lobster "taco"; rock shrimp tempura with japapeno, creamy & spicy and ponzu dipping sauce

For starters we shared the scallop & lobster “taco”, little itsy bitsy tacos filled with cooked lobster flesh or scallop sashimi. I thought it was infinitely cute, especially perched on an even itsier bitsier piece of radish but taste wise, it could have packed more… anything. Bland, I think is the word you’d use to describe this starter.

The rock shrimp tempura, a house speciality, was much better and served with three divine dipping sauces ~ jalapeno, creamy & spicy, and the traditional ponzu ~ each tiny ball of shrimp actually had shrimp inside and was cooked beautifully lightly. Impressively, the bed of greens it came atop doubled as a salad with a tangy dressing. This is good because yes, I need to eat more greens.

For our mains, we opted to share two seafood dishes and two wood fired oven dishes. The two seafood dishes came out first ~ a lobster wasabi (which was totally like a billion times not how I expected it to be) and the usual flavour explosion of the black cod miso.

lobster wasabi; black cod miso

I thought the lobster wasabi would be a grown up version of the rock shrimp tempura, battered pieces of lobster with a light wasabi mayo. Or something.

What was I thinking? The dish that came out could not have been more different, and luckily far more delicious. It was more like a Chinese style stir fry with asparagus, mushrooms and garlic but the sauce! OH the sauce! I can’t even explain and dare not think about replicating. The exquisite mix of savoury, almost umami, with a hint of wasabi. In-cre-di-ble.

The black cod needs no explanation. If you’ve had this at Nobu you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve had this elsewhere, Nobu’s is like a hundred times better. If you haven’t had it at all, dude, go try it.

After the first two dishes, my appetite was more than whetted and I was keen for some of the wood fired action. But hello, this is where my experience begins to deteriorate. Poo.

No photos. No stories. No love.

Our waiter came over, crouched to my height (oh yes, he took How To Deliver Bad News 101) and advised that as per very new regulations, photography is no longer permitted in the restaurant so could I please refrain from taking photos? He continued to explain the celebrity blah blah and also no food photos blah blah.

I zoned out.

Because telling a food blogger that you can’t take photos of the food is honestly like telling them someone has died. Really.

My eyes glazed over, my thoughts running a hundred miles an hour .. what? what is he saying…? but I have to post about this! And I NEED PHOTOS! no, he’s lying. It’s a big joke… he’s going to tell me it’s a joke… right?!

I wanted to ask him why. I wanted to argue. But at the same time, I sat there knowing that I already have a half dozen photos and if he asked me to delete those, I would have just died. Just died on the spot. And I’m not even exagge-ma-rating. So I kept quiet.

The rest of the meal became a big non-event. I don’t even want to write about it now because I have no photos to show you.

But in one word, the wagyu beef tataki – good. The cabbage steak truffle -amazing, possibly one of the best dishes I have ever had in. my. life. There I go with the non exagge-ma-ration again, but really, it was delicious.

Dessert was coconut pannacotta with lemongrass sorbet – a refreshing finish to the meal, and Panu’s mum had this crazy chocolate bomb which encased a scoop of sake ice cream and here’s the cool thing. When served, they pour a dollop of hot chocolate sauce over the chocolate bomb and it just dissolves… to reveal the ice cream.

But who cares because I can’t show you what it looks like! *sad*

Anyway, Nobu SNOBu, I was excited about you but now, I am just plain and simply disappointed.

Why do you insist on the no food photo policy? Do you realise how much value it detracts from your average paying customer, when they feel restricted at your venue?

Well no, of course you don’t care. I mean, I’m not a celebrity am I? I’m not famous or rich or even pretty enough for you to care…

..and sadly, I think that is probably what matters most to Nobu.

ps: if you’re normal and don’t really give a toss about taking photos of your food, go right ahead, you’ll probably have a great time. But remember, don’t go for an anniversary or birthday or any time that you’d like to have photographic evidence of. Because people photos are a bigger no-no than food photos.

Nobu Berkeley
15 Berkeley Street
London, W1J 8DY
0207 290 9222

Nobu Berkeley on Urbanspoon

17 Thoughts on “SNOBu Nobu Berkeley: no FOOD photo policy = FAIL

  1. Right, well I’m not going there then.

    (Great post, Catty)

  2. i totally feel you, girl.
    Grrrrr. HATE NO PHOTO POLICY. blah!

  3. meemalee: thanks 🙂 yeh, it just puts such a damper on things! I mean the food was nice and service was good but just no photos? WHY?!

    mochachocolatarita: geez it took me a few goes to type your name right but YES I agree. No photo policy is for haters.

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  5. Awesome post 🙂 I went to Nobu in HK… to be honest, wasn’t blown away.

    I can understand the no photo policy from the perspective that it alters the restaurant’s mood but I took mad photos AND video at a 3*** in Paris with no problems so I feel your pain, girl.

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  7. I just don’t understand the no photo policy. I had a cameraremoved from my face in a small restaurant in Seville over the summer.And not politely also photos of the MENU were forbidden.

  8. Mel: I guess I maybe understand that. I think people who use flash spoil the atmosphere but I never ever use flash. Weird. But yeh, I think it’s just Nobu being snobby.. The Fat Duck were fine with us taking photos too!

    Richard: Really? Do they not have the menu online? I think it’s just pretentious to be honest.

  9. ….police state nobu. O.o haha
    I feel for you, no food porn after you leave the restaurant is badd. =(

    I’ve never had enough money to go haha, but i think my parents have told me about their sister restaurant in docklands- ubon [nobu backwards geddit!(when i found out, i had a field dayy =D)]

  10. I feel you on the no photo policy. London restaurants seem to be especially strict about that. So I haven’t even dared to take any photos in the ones I go to- resulting in a distinct lack of inspiration to talk about food on my blog. The restaurant’s prob really protective over its copyrights- design and presentation of food.

  11. Catty:No, no online menu but its on the chalk board in front of the restaurant totally crazy.

  12. Yinnie: no food porn for me 🙁

    imp: Oh you shouldn’t be too scared! The thing is not that many restaurants have this uptight policy, probably only a handful of restaurants. I think they should be proud of the design and presentation of their food, I mean if you really wanted to copy what it looked like, you’d memorise it, no?

    Richard: LOL that is just bizarre. What have they got to hide?

  13. you do rmb we got told off at Bali Grill for taking pics! lol! I hate that place, I always tell pple not to go there 😛

  14. Ying: LOL I remember that clearly and was telling P about it at Nobu! I mean honestly, that place could not have even claimed celebrities go there!

  15. Hmmm, now I think less of Nobu. I’ve always been curious to visit the place but if they’re so full of nonsense, I don’t see the point of going. It’s probably all gone to their heads: egotism (we can tell customers what and what not to do) and paranoia (please don’t steal our ideas). Stuff them.

  16. Michelle: I completely agree with you re egotism or paranoia. The thing with the paranoia is that if I wanted to steal a presentation style, dude it’s not that hard to just remember what the dish looked like. Really stupid and yes, stuff them.

  17. Afaf Badawy on October 7, 2017 at 12:40 am said:

    Wish I would have seen this before I became the laughing stock of Nobu Malibu. I unfortunately was not approached with a low-key approach as you were but instead an aggressive waiter blocking my phone and out loud talking with another table about how proud he was that he blocked my shot.

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