It's much more than a restaurant or a bar, Zuma is an experience, a journey into an amazing concept, where some of this city's most innovative drinks are blended and great food is served. The vibes at Zuma New York are outstanding. This iconic restaurant is a place one must visit at least once in a lifetime.
Zuma, the brainchild of award winning co-founder and creator Rainer Becker, brings its internationally acclaimed style of modern Japanese cuisine to Midtown New York. Zuma serves dishes designed to be shared, and inspired by the informal dining style of izakaya. The three kitchens present authentic and alluring options, with bold flavors and simple presentation, highlighting the quality ingredients. I've been to Zuma Dubai and fell in love with it... I tried the one in London and left astonished... I enjoyed a great dinner at the one in Istanbul and I recently fell in love with the one in New York.
I arrived at 7:30pm and the place was already fully booked.
You are welcomed by the doorman, then three ladies at the reception will take you upstairs for a drink and 'a mise en bouche' before moving back down to dinner.
Zuma is a huge place spread on two floors, with a bar and dining area. Similar to the one in Istanbul, the concept is built around wood, large pieces of tree trunks, wood parquet, glass and metal, brown leather and dimmed lighting.
Lounge music in the background in a space that includes a non smoking zone, different corners and intimate spaces, a bar surrounded by tables...
My journey started on the first level. I then went down to ask for my table. Couples, businessmen, groups, everyone was happy and enjoying themselves.
Down in the main dining area is where the enjoyment really sets in. A waiter approached us and recommended a plate of edamame while we chose our the order. The same menu is offered all around the world. Sushi and sashimi, robata grill, salads, starters, tempura and signature dishes. I asked the waiter to help with the order and to recommend plates without garlic. The main problem is that there's a lot of detailed descriptions and no photos. You'll spend some time reading.
At the bar, I started with a vodka martini drink which I took down to the table. Vodka and passion fruit martini with spicy chili and apples. I'm not a fan of cocktails but this one is spot on.
Then dinner was served, one plate following another. This is much more than normal food. Probably highly priced you might say, but the price is justified in every plate, every ingredient and every single item.
The black truffles over the beef tatami, the tuna tatami in soy sauce, the crunchy warm edamame... warm, not sweet, smooth and not crunchy, the Makis are really excellent: fine dining quality.
Tonight was our lucky night. We received three plates which I noticed we did not order. But the waiter approached us with a big smile and informed us that they are now ours and we won't be charged for them. Even the manager approached with a big smile to apologize and reconfirmed that she's leaving the plates on my table despite the fact the we did not order them. This is the utmost level of professionalism.
I had the chance to try their salad, a fresh green salad with wasabi. The shrimp tempura and dynamite shrimps were a bit too oily and needed the sauce to give them the missing flavor. Tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside, they are well prepared but needed more salt for a boost of flavor.
The Black Cod left me speechless... tender, well cooked, lightly sweet and leaded with flavor. Wrapped into a banana leaf, this plate is spot on. It's exceptionally tasty and a must try for sure.
Saving the best for last: skirt meat prepared medium. A full bodied well textured skirt meat cut into slices, charcoal grilled and burned on the outside leaving a pleasant taste to it. It might not be Wagyu or Angus beef but this meat is one I'll be remembering for a long time. I loved its unique texture, its charm, flavor, juiciness and scent.
You cannot leave Zuma without having the Zuma indulgence, the famous molten chocolate cake with caramel sauce and ice cream on the side. A warm cake served on a bed of soft biscuit with a vanilla scoop on the side and decorated with crunchy hazelnuts. Just press your tongue onto your palate and feel the ice cream, caramel and chocolate cake explode in a million flavors... This is a big yes, a must try, a definite recommendation.
Even though we received five plates we didn't order, I loved everything about this place. The welcome, the service, the food and the ambiance. Zuma is surely to be recommended anywhere in the world.