Stepping into Zuma on a Saturday night is like entering a new trendy world, a place where Carrie Bradshaw would crave for a ‘table for four’.
Electronic music – maybe too loud – softened lighting, tuxedos and high-heeled models; yes, Zuma remains the emblematic must-go restaurant in Knightsbridge that consistently insures a unique experience – served with its very long bill.
Zuma’s founder and esteemed German chef Rainer Becker first opened Zuma London in 2002, followed by openings in Dubai, New York, Hong Kong and others. Rome is next in Spring 2016.
Bamboo, wood and a nice fountain surrounding you, Zuma London inspires a stylish atmosphere based on natural elements – earth, water, fire and air – innovated by Japanese interior designer Noriyoshi Muramatsu, who did all of Becker’s restaurants.
Zuma’s global theme is a contemporary and modern Japanese food – meant to be shared – while offering a gustatory experience based on traditional Isakaya style of informal eating and drinking.
Having won 10 prizes since the opening, including ‘Restaurant of the Year’ and ‘Chef of the Year’, Zuma uses greatest quality ingredients, lively but simple flavours and delicate presentations. Rainer Becker fascinates with his cuisine, inspired by six years spent in Tokyo in the 1990s.
Signature dishes such as the marinated black cod wrapped in hoba leaf – the marinade is exceptional, but impossible to recreate at home – the barley miso marinated baby chicken, crispy fried squids and asparagus with wafu sauce and sesame are not to be missed. Sushi is a must – especially the lip-smacking dynamite spider roll with softshell crab. Even vegetarian California rolls – come on, who orders vegetarian sushi? – are absolutely delightful.
The dishes offer a large range of products from yellow tail to simple spinach, always turned to its advantage – and an impressive list of 40 different varieties of sake is to be discovered, along with its classic but worthy list of expensive wine.
The best dish was the lobster tempuras. A crispy coating in the outside, a meltingly soft lobster in the inside, to be mixed with one of the two sauces served: wasabi mayonnaise and chilli oiled mixture. It was the revelation of the evening: hot, delicate and vibrant.
As the robotic service, deserts are not the restaurant’s best elements but one is actually outstanding: called The Special, this chocolate-caramel fondant is explosive in terms of flavours, and the best way to end your dinner. It is so special it is not appearing on the menu: you have to be a regular customer to know about it.
Buzzing Zuma is still unconditionally one of the best Japanese restaurants in London, although the service should definitely be improved.
Zuma 5 Raphael Street, Knightsbridge, London SW7 1DL
Contact 020 7584 1010; www.zumarestaurant.com
Price £60 and upwards