Review of Black Cod and Wagyu
Promising premium steak at affordable prices, I dropped by at Black Cod and Wagyu, London’s newest steak pop up.
Black Cod and Wagyu is a steakhouse inside a steakhouse. Resident in Zelman Meats Soho since 1st October, a short walk through the main restaurant and a curtain hides a bright red room full of Japanese kitsch and a menu focused on “Wagyu” steak and miso black cod.
The Wagyu, as our waiter volunteered, is actually cross-bred “Wagyu” from Australia. This means that a pure-bred Wagyu bull (Japanese Black) was crossed with Angus to produce our steak. I anticipated that this Wagyu wasn’t the real (from Japan) deal, but had hoped that it would be significantly better than the “Wagyu” that was being sold by Aldi (which was cross-bred Wagyu from New Zealand). If you’re unfamiliar with the term, Wagyu means Japanese beef. You can check out our feature on Wagyu here.
I asked to see the steak before it was cooked. It was sirloin and there were veins of marbling (this is fat dispersed through the steak) in the sirloin. However, this steak didn’t look anything like the proper stuff you’ll see in Japan (the marbling resembles salami). Instead, the steak looked a lot like the Aldi steak I had a couple of months ago.
Between three, we shared two Wagyu steaks and one black cod (the mains are priced at £20 each). The waiter suggested we go with the kitchen’s recommendation for the steak temperature (which was between medium and medium-rare).
Not long after, the Wagyu and cod arrived. The steak was sliced and looked delicious. I tasted the steak and immediately noticed the crust: it had an amazing scented smokiness from the restaurant’s maple wood grill. But beyond the taste of the crust, there was little substance to this steak. The steak while juicy, was not tender and did not have the sweet buttery taste of Wagyu. There were pockets of fat which were almost sweet, but I can only describe them as having a weird taste (somewhere between sweet and strange).
I moved onto the miso black cod. The delicate flakes of fish were tender, moist and the sauce was lip-smacking good. The cod was vastly superior to the Wagyu. We had sides of chips and Som Tam salad (which had clashing flavours).
I looked up at the large Maneki-Neko (Japanese cat charm) waving luck at me. Not this time. I can’t help but think that Australian Wagyu is a poor choice of meat. I struggle to understand the appeal of budget cross-bred “Wagyu” coming out of Australia and New Zealand. It isn’t raised the same way as in Japan and the steak does not look or taste like Wagyu. Black Cod and Wagyu should instead go for quality local steak and add a Japanese tataki twist (like at Mirador de Ulia).
Black Cod and Wagyu is halfway there. The black cod is excellent, however the Wagyu is not. While the grill work is faultless, the restaurant would do well to serve steak that isn’t pretending to be premium.
No missed steak
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Visiting Black Cod and Wagyu
- Black Cod and Wagyu is located in Zelman’s restaurant in St Anne’s court until further notice.
- The mains are priced at £20 each and discounted to £15 at lunch.