It's ZUMA, it's the restaurant, it's the address to see, be seen and experience. After visiting ZUMA Dubai and ZUMA London here comes ZUMA Istanbul where the ambiance and feel look the same around the world. It's an upscale restaurant enchanted by unique vibes and surely superb food.
Located in Istinye Park facing the Armani Caffe in the heart of be luxurious quarters is ZUMA. Take the elevator up to the first floor and prepare to be amazed. A large space, a square shaped restaurant divided into different islands including the sushi bar, the tepenyaki open kitchen, the bar and an elevated seating space. In the heart of the restaurant are high tables.
Three walks and an open space. One side is open to the mall, the facing one is painted in red, one in black and the last in stones. The wine cellar occupies the corner where all the bottles are displayed. Beauty of architecture mastered to the smallest of details. A low ceiling painted in brown, thick wood tables, low sofas, relaxed cushions and design lights. Lounge music plays in the background.
Open the classy red leather menu and read about ZUMA the contemporary Japanese Izakaya dishes are prepared in three Selena's areas; the principal kitchen, the sushi bar and the Robata grill. ZUMA offers dishes that are designed for sharing. Daikoku menu, seasonal dishes, snacks and soups, cold dishes, salads, tempura, signature dishes, robata seafood, robata meat and poultry, robata beef, robata vegetables, skewers and sides. Three pages of innovative things and wished to order everything.
The order was taken professionally, repeated then asked if we want the sommelier to visit our table. Wet napkins were delivered to the table while drinks arrived.
- Crispy fried squid with green chili and lime.
- Seared salmon with lemon basil soy and mustard miso rice.
- Tomato and eggplant salad with higher spring onions dressing.
- Tempura sweet prawns, green pea wasabi and chili dip.
- Robata salt grilled sea bass with burned tomato and ginger relish.
- Selection of maki.
- Two temakis.
All looked beautiful until we experienced the very slow service and the food which was way below what we expected. I was amazed during my visits to London and Dubai; I'm not sure what this place is all about.
The culinary experience is deceiving:
- A rectangular plate where a box of wood with a cone of paper filled with fried prawn tempura and the green chili lime sauce is served. Tender prawns, a light smooth crunch with a strong spicy creamy sauce. I loved the prawns explode their juice and flavor without leaving any chewiness behind. Fine dining!
- Crunchy squid with rings of green chili pepper and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Neat and straight to the point, not oily, crunchy with a tender heart and no chewiness. It's good!
- Temaki is a failure for ZUMA's standards. Chewy nori, al dente rice, not enough salmon and garlic powder! Avocado are not ripe enough while something inside chews and sticks to the teeth. It needs crunchy fresh nori, better rice, more fish and surely no garlic.
- Beef rolls, beef Makis with more garlic than beef. Strong garlic haunts your palatial buds not leaving any chance to taste the meat. The rolls themselves are not exceptional.
- Nice free cucumber and salmon rolls. A crunchy cucumber envelope wrapped around salmon. The best thing about them is the salty soy sauce that leaves some flavor. Nothing to write home about.
- Tomatoes and eggplant salad. A mountain of grilled eggplant well marinated and zesty on a bed of sliced tomatoes embraced with pepper. Very rich and flavorful, this salad is the best thing we had until now. Simply tomatoes and eggplant better than all the complicated things we had before.
- The Makis: first impression was disappointing Not good, not tasty, sticky, chewy and dull. One is extremely salty, the other is intensely filled with garlic and close to being disgusting... I was this close to throwing up. A total failure and I was not expecting this from ZUMA.
Chopsticks and plates were changed and table emptied for the main course. And we waited...
The sea bass fish comes in a square plate. A black plate with a piece of sea bass and a mountain of shredded vegetables. A very hot fish and cold veggies. I personally didn't understand what I'm eating. Something very spicy, something very lemony, lots of garlic, a taste I couldn't understand. The fish quality is perfect but the mix is too soggy. Too many flavors and again lots of unpleasant spiciness. A disturbing plate.
Things were taking too long. I didn't feel like waiting more for dessert.
- Service: Slow and unorganized.
- Food: Extremely deceiving. You eat better at a casual Japanese restauarnt in Beirut.
- Price: $90/person without drinks.
- Conclusion: Not worth it.
I'm planning to visit the one in New York soon.