The Sunday Telegraph reports this morning that, thanks to Greenpeace investigative work*, we now know that London’s Nobu restaurants, among the capital’s favourite celebrity hangouts, are serving up endangered bluefin tuna as sushi.
Not only is this a scandal in itself – like serving up rhino burgers or tiger chops – but it is not even clear to diners what they are eating. The menu certainly doesn't say 'cut of endangered bluefin', nor even for that matter does it even tell you what the species is! It would be like being sold something as just 'a steak' and finding out afterwards that you have just eaten some gorilla. From our own trips to the restaurant the staff seemed at best confused and ignorant about what species they were serving up.
The official response from Nobu on whether they sell bluefin has been a repeated, resounding ‘no comment’. But now we know clearly that they are serving bluefin, it is not labelled as such, and the fish can be traced back to endangered Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks, through their supply chain and the DNA evidence.
What does this mean? It means that the celebrity diners at Nobu, the likes of Madonna, David Beckham and Lily Allen, are unwittingly pushing a species toward extinction. It means that Robert De Niro, co-owner of the restaurant chain seems to be angling for the title of ‘Godfather of ocean destruction’. And it shows that whether you eat tuna from a tin in your supermarket or at the most prestigious London sushi restaurant – you might have cause for concern.
Other restaurateurs have already stopped using bluefin because of threats to the species – even Gordon Ramsay has dropped it from his menu, along with sushi restaurant Moshi Moshi. Greenpeace has even been told by Eat-Japan, organisers of the London Sushi Awards (the world's only sushi championships, due to be held in London on Oct 6th) that they have taken bluefin off the menu this year.
It's high time that Nobu stopped selling bluefin, and let's hope that their celebrity diners let them know that.
* Our researchers obtained two samples from all three of Nobu's London restaurants, along with the retail outlets of their suppliers Atari-Ya. The DNA analysis of these samples was conducted with the assistance of the conservation organisation WWF, and clearly showed that all of the samples which were tested which yielded results were Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus). On Nobu's menus the tuna sushi is not identified by species, but merely cuts of meat such as 'o-toro', 'chu-toro' and 'akimi'.