Japanese Izakaya style restaurants are quickly becoming one of our favourites. They offer a different and modern way to eat great Japanese food in a stylish establishment. Currently Dinings in Marylebone is the best we’ve tasted however Zuma is the more affluent older brother looking to make it’s mark and it definitely leaves you wanting more.
We will add this in now that Zuma is high end, so expect a large bill but food and drinks that fit the price. Upon entering the restaurant you’re greeted by friendly doormen which leads you to the front of house. The ladies here were excellent and quickly took our coats/bags and led us to our pre-booked table. We were housed in the bar area rather than the restaurant but the atmosphere is just as good here. Zuma has a modern decor and great music playing in the background. The best way to describe it is chilled out house music but just loud enough so that you don’t need to shout. There’s a large bar where many members of the public hang out at before they eat or just to have a drink. Next to the bar is a large kitchen counter where you can sit (not on stools for once) and watch the meticulous chefs at work. We ordered some house cocktails and perused the menu, which is one of the best around might we add. Izakaya and Tapas food make us eat differently with ordering dishes as and when rather than the usual starter-main course-dessert affair. We have to say it’s one of the best ways to eat!
We started our order with thinly sliced seabass with yuzu, truffle oil & salmon roe, stir fried soybeans with chilli, garlic & ginger, fried soft shell crab with wasabi mayonnaise and steamed spinach with sesame sauce. The seabass was fantastically thin and the truffle oil made it outstanding. The edamame were al dente, just spicy enough and wonderfully moreish. The soft shell crab could be one of the best we’ve had and it’s probably down to that Wasabi mayonnaise! Finally the steamed spinach (which comes cold) is something we always order here as it just works. The wilted spinach leaves with sesame are a great marriage of flavours.
Next up we ordered Chicken Wings with Sake, Sea Salt & Lime, Beef Skewers with Soy, Garlic, Ginger & Ancho Chilli, Black Cod wrapped in a Hoba Leaf, and Duck Breast spiced with Ginger, Chilli & Sake. We shall start with the star of the show: The Black Cod served at Zuma is probably the best in London. It’s difficult to choose between here and Nozomi down the road but I think this one just takes it. It’s cooked to perfection and the hoba leaf adds a depth of flavour we haven’t had elsewhere. The chicken wings were lovely and the sake adds a hint of something you don’t normally taste. The beef skewers arrive cooked pink and were deliciously succulent. Finally the duck breast which also had an element of sake and we really enjoyed it; the ginger-chilli kick added a great dimension.
To finish there’s one thing to have at Zuma and that’s the off menu Chocloate Fondant with Vanilla, Praline & Caramel ice cream. It arrives with the words ‘Zuma’ plastered on the top of it and you can tell this is opulent. Opening up the fondant and chocolate oozes everywhere. Couple it with the ice cream and it’s one of the best desserts around. We’re glad it’s off the menu so that technically they should never run out!
Zuma is Japanese Izakaya done well. With mainstays such as Nobu holding their own in this small pond, it’s good to see another restaurant being successful. The music is good, the people are beautiful and the food is excellent. Zuma is a place you’d always go to if you could as the food is fresh and mostly healthy, just clear your credit cards first!
5 Raphael Street, Knightsbridge, SW7 1DL