The world’s most expensive beef has arrived in the City, offering much needed help to bankers unsure of how to blow their bonuses.
It's the first time in more than a decade that luxurious Kobe beef has been available in London, and it's being sold for nearly £150 a steak or as part of a £1000 meal.
M Grill opened on Threadneedle Street less than a fortnight ago, with 150g Kobe steaks on the menu for £149 a pop — more than four times the price of a fillet steak at Hawksmoor.
Sky-high Heron Tower restaurant Sushisamba trumped that yesterday, launching a Kobe beef menu that costs £1000 for up to four people. For a bag of sand, diners at the Japanese-Brazilian fusion restaurant will get 1kg of the beef cooked over a hot stone along with miso, pickles and salad. It will also come with an authentication certificate from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to prove that it’s the real deal — important given the revelation a couple of years ago that diners in the US were often being fobbed off with fake Kobe beef. Other Kobe dishes will also be appearing on Sushisamba’s menu, including a temaki hand roll for £26 and a rib-eye steak for £140.
Why so special?
Kobe beef comes from the highly-prized Wagyu breed of cattle, and is considered the most exclusive meat in the world thanks to its high level of fat marbling which makes it incredibly tender and richly-flavoured. It’s produced to strict regulations and can only come from the Hyōgo prefecture of Japan.
This is the reason you won’t have seen it much recently. In 2001 the EU banned all imports of Japanese beef in reaction to Japan’s refusal to buy European beef in the aftermath of the BSE crisis. This ban was only lifted this summer, following Japan’s decision to allow imports from France and the Netherlands. The country still turns its nose up at British beef, but that hasn’t stopped London’s restaurants from eagerly lapping up the ludicrously expensive meat.
As these excessively expensive menus launch, it’s hard not to think of the recent comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has expressed his shock at Britain’s food banks and the appalling numbers of people who can’t afford to feed themselves and their families.
There can be few better examples of inequality in London than contrasting the 1800 people who have had to be fed by a food bank in Wandsworth since April this year, with those diners who spend close to £1800 in one sitting, on dishes such as Kobe beef.
If you want an even better emblem for this excess, look no further than the Glamburger at Honky Tonk in Chelsea. It costs £1100 and combines Wagyu beef with caviar, lobster, gold leaf, truffle and a Champagne jus. It's designed to sound luxurious rather than delicious. Is it just us that feels a bit sick at the thought?