The newspapers and blog sites have been full of Nobu's bluefin shame over the past week or so. And quite right too. The spotlight of the imminent release of The End Of The Line which features the plight of endangered bluefin, is putting the celebrity-favourite restaurant under increasing pressure.
On Friday Greenpeace ran a full page advert in the London Evening Standard, and the story of celebrities' bluefin backlash has been reported from Hello! to the New York Post. So today seemed an ideal time to pay Nobu's London restaurants a visit too. And that's just what we did.
With a bunch of Greenpeace volunteers we took some cleverly designed 'fish sticks' – bluefin-shaped placards on long poles (just long enough to reach the restaurant's first floor windows) with the slogans 'ENDANGERED SUSHI*' and 'DON'T CHOOSE TUNA'. We wanted to let Nobu know it wasn't acceptable to sell endangered species, and encourage diners to ask what they are doing on the menu in the first place!Nobu don't think they need to have any sort of sustainable policy when it comes to sourcing seafood. Is that really acceptable from a market-leader in the sushi world?
We stayed outside both London Nobu restaurants for a few hours, engaging with as many people as we could. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people knew what the issue was all about, with many customers, and taxi drivers in the rank outside, telling us they'd already read about it in the papers.
Nobu's initial reaction to our 'fish sticks'? To pull the blinds down. After all if you just close your eyes it might all go away. But the blinds went back up within a few minutes – which we later found out was because the customers had demanded it.
We also handed out specially made-up 'new' Nobu menus, highlighting the endangered species they might think of adding to the list like Siberian Tigers, perhaps? Or maybe Californian Condor? And drawing attention to the fact that it seems Nobu don't think they need to have any sort of sustainable policy when it comes to sourcing seafood. Is that really acceptable from a market-leader in the sushi world? Our volunteers engaged with dozens of customers, many were shocked, and at least two couples told us they had cancelled reservations in disgust at the issue.
In the time we were there, comic actor Matt Lucas, Amelle from the Sugababes, and Hollywood actor Jack Black turned up at the restaurant. Jack went in clutching one of our spoof menus. As the eponymous star of Kung Fu Panda, we're sure he must have asked what on earth a fellow endangered species was doing on the menu…
It's time Nobu listened. To us, to Charles Clover, to the scientists, and to their celebrity customers. If all of the UK supermarkets can have sustainable policies when it comes to sourcing their seafood there is absolutely no reason why an elite up-market restaurant like Nobu can't do likewise.
And if you'd like them to listen to you too, why not contact them here.
Nobu Matsuhisa (in the US)
+ 1 323-852-0811
Nobu London restaurant
Tel: 0207 447 4747
Nobu Berkeley Street restaurant
Tel: 0207 290 9222