The popularity of restaurants in London do vary as much as movements on the stock market, very few of them truly stand the test of time. Zuma is one of those rare beasts in the brutally competitive world of the London restaurant scene, where diners from top businessmen to regular families consistently rank as one of their favourite restaurants which they go back to on a regular basis.
Despite the prestigious Knightsbridge location and owned by one of the most high-end restaurateurs in world, Rainer Becker, the restaurant is surprisingly welcoming and relaxed. Although, this does fit in with their mission statement of offering a cultivated twist on the traditional Japanese izakaya style in an informal environment. Despite the restaurant being over a decade old, there is a timeless feel to this classy venue: the centrepiece no doubt is their open kitchen design whether it is the robata grill or the sushi counter.
The best way to enjoy the Zuma experience is to order a wide selection of sharing plates, which go particularly well when matched with their signature cocktails. Their crispy fried squid with green chilli and lime has a light batter and the squid thinly sliced which is ideal given that it isn’t actually an easily digestible dish. If you are indecisive like most Londoners, I would recommend asking them to bring out a sushi/sashimi platter selection. You know their sushi masters have been trained properly, when the final product is thin-looking with a minute amount of rice unlike other London venues which would normally overload on the rice. The sourcing of their fish is unsurprisingly ultra-fresh. I did question the server if it was a fatty tuna that I was seeing on the platter and she was quick to reply that they only use sustainable sources. Other raw fish dishes to order are sliced yellow tail with green chilli relish and ponzu.
A key part of their success is simple cooking using premium ingredients and along with light flavourings. We tried the spicy beef tenderloin with sesame, red chilli and sweet soy. The beef being so tender, rendering the use of a knife unneccessary, thus it is still a great dish for sharing with friends. Likewise the cod dish we tried was fleshy yet delicate tasting at the same time.
The best way to end your meal is by ordering off menu and requesting their dessert platter. It is literally the best of the best from their kitchen including a chocolate fondant with a rich gooey centre, exotically flavoured sorbets and tropical fruits like lychee and dragon fruits.
A unique feature of the London branch is the fact that you can order the Zuma special cocktails from other Zumas around the world, so you can sample the aperol-based cocktail from Zuma in Rome. Once again their innovative mixologists are more than happy to create something off-menu for you like the yuzu paloma I tried on our visit. With such innovation, attentive service and exquisite food, it is hard not to fall in love with Zuma.