ASTAR Tokyo chef, Shoichi Fujimaki, has delighted wealthy locals by charging £70 for a single serving of his signature ramen noodles, a price commanded by his special blend of broth. A less gourmet version of the staple can be bought for £4 down the road.
So if cash-stripped Japan can rustle up dishes so extravagant, what do we in London have to offer? The doom and gloom of the past year and a half seems to have passed off, at least superficially, with the rich spending again, and conspicuously, too.
As Ajaz Sheikh, food and beverage director at the ultra-glamorous Lanesborough Hotel, says: “For people who are losing a few million out of a pot of £100m, life goes on.” Indeed: he recalls how just three nights ago a couple of gentlemen: “wanted two lobsters, slightly boiled but not fully cooked, and wanted them layered with beluga caviar.” This little whim came to £800 a head.
“Caviar is flying out just now,” adds Sheikh. “At Apsleys, we’re offering a carpaccio of lingoustine, and as a supplement you can choose wild beluga or sevruga. So people are just saying: ‘We’ll take a tin.’” A 50g tin of wild beluga eggs costs £1,000, and comes on ice with a little spoon.”
Apsley’s truffle menu, at £550-£750 per head, was such a success that truffles could be sniffed in the lobby. And its most popular cigars cost £1,500, sold in the hotel’s Garden Room. Elsewhere in town are £60 starter soups and £400 cocktails. Looks like the age of excess may be back, at least in our restaurants and bars.
DOM PERIGNON MENU AT HEINZ BECK, APSLEYS
At £950 per person, this menu was so popular it’s being extended. Think oyster and champagne risotto and langoustine with foie gras – plus matching fizz, of course. 48 hour notice needed. Tel: 020 7333 7254 www.lanesborough.co.uk
FOIE GRAS AND CRISTAL AT GILGAMESH
Super-flashy bar, restaurant and club Gilgamesh, lorded over by chef-about-town Iain Pengelley, has recently introduced a dish only for those who ask. No doubt the well-heeled north London set will lap up portions of Waygu beef, topped with foie gras and marinated in pink Crystal Champagne and Louis XIV cognac, at £150 a pop. www.gilgameshbar.com
BRING ON THE CAVIAR
Caviar is nothing new to the super-rich, and their appetite for the fish eggs appears to be at an all-time high. At the Lanesborough, it’s being ordered by the bucket-ful. The Ivy, too, is doing a roaring trade with its starter dish of sevruga costing £75 (30g) and £125 (50g). Let the good times roll. www.the-ivy.co.uk
GOLD STYLE WAGYU AT MAZE GRILL
Yesterday’s price for a 10oz sirloin or 8oz rib eye of “ninth grade gold style” Wagyu beef was £90. Be sure to check today’s – it might be up to £110. At least the Grill offers chips for £3.50 to go with it. Tel: 020 7200 7495, www.gordonramsay.com/mazegrill.
BIRTHDAY COCKTAILS AT THE SANDERSON’S PURPLE BAR
The Purple Bar has gone all out for its 10 year anniversary. Cocktails are served in Baccarat crystal glasses and ice is made with Bling H20 water. The Dill Sour is our favourite, made with Beluga caviar, Beluga gold line vodka, garnished with Beluga caviar and the rest of the 30g tin is served with warm blinis. Cost? Just £430. www.morganshotelgroup. com
BIRD’S NEST SOUP AT CHINA TANG AT THE DORCHESTER
Even at the Dorchester, you’d want £60 for a starter soup to get you something special. Indeed, made from the cave swift bird’s saliva-based nest, the soup is believed to aid digestion, raise libido, improving the voice, alleviate asthma, improve focus, and boost the immune system. Nests are harvested from the limestone caves of Borneo.
Delicious, no? www.thedorchester.com