London. Hong Kong. Istanbul. Dubai. Miami. Bangkok. Abu Dhabi. Datca Peninsula. New York
Zuma is called a see-and-be-seen place.
That’s why I have never visited because I assumed it was all fluff and no stuff — you know what I mean. Pretty people places typically try too hard and in the process end up looking pretentious while catering to people who only eat celery.
But, to my very pleasant surprise — Zuma is different.
I was invited to attend Zuma’s first birthday celebration and I was excited to go because I wanted to see what the fuss is all about.
From the moment I arrived I could tell — the fuss is about a lot of stuff.
Zuma is located at the Galleria on Maryah Island. The contemporary cubed entrance of Zuma let’s you know this place is not your ordinary restaurant. Entering into the cube I felt like I was joining a secret club or something obscure which felt a little adventurous. I made my way down the dimly lit staircase hoping I didn’t take a tumble and literally crash into the birthday party, but thankfully, all was well.
Zuma’s interior design was created by Tokyo based Noriyoshi Muramatsu of studio glitt. Muramatsu fully balances the six elements of fire, earth, water, air, wood and iron to achieve harmony. The restaurant showcases teak wood in its natural form, and organically hewn Thai stone for the counter tops and walls, to create a dramatic yet intimate space.
There is absolutely no doubt Zuma is sophisticated but it is earthy and natural as well which softens the vibe and makes the entire experience more relaxed. There are certainly pretty people in this place but to use the word see-and-be-seen which, in my opinion, can have a negative connotation and I do not believe that Zuma deserves the label because it is much more than a place to be seen — it is a place to be savored.
Zuma creates beautiful little cocktail flowers by placing crushed ice in a lemon squeezer which forms a little flower cup to hold drink embellishments.
I was greeted at the bar by the incredibly pleasant general manager Ilir Caushi who graciously offered me a drink. Still a little reeling from the cube, the stairs, and my sensory overload of sophistication; and the fact that I was driving, I tried to order a club soda with lime. But of course that wouldn’t do. I am told that drinks are only one of Zuma’s specialities and I was then courted with an oral menu of incredible mocktails. The detail and attention given to the presentation of the cocktails is above and beyond anything I have ever experienced. The drinks in tumbler glasses are served with a large ball of ice with the Zuma monogram and they use unusual embellishments to create cocktail craft that is so unusual becomes the topic of conversation for the evening. I was also told that the regional bar manager Jimmy Barrat is one of the world’s leading bartenders and to both taste and visually admire the drinks, I would certianly agree: Jimmy is the Cowboy of Cocktails.
Zuma describes themselves as Japanese izakaya style of dining, food is served to share. dishes are steadily bought to the table creating an informal yet sophisticated style of eating and drinking with a contemporary twist
To be honest with you, I have dietary restrictions because I have a digestive disease and many high-end restaurants usually do not like to modify their style to accommodate me so I am always very cautious when ordering especially in Japanese restaurants but I found the Zuma staff to be overly considerate of my issues and eager to show me the menu options they offer for diners with dietary restrictions which was a much larger menu than I expected. The presentation of the food was on par with the cocktails. It was an incredible medley of visual art that played before our eyes; served one by one in a sharing fashion with my entire table completely engrossed in the description from start to finish. All of the food was excellently prepared and a visual fest for the eyes.
ika no kari kari age (crispy fried squid, green chilli and lime). tayzen taru taru kyabia zoe (salmon and tuna tartare with oscietra caviar). saba no kyuri maki (mackerel and cucumber roll with ginger and homemade vinegar). ebi no sumibiyaki yuzu kosho fuumi (jumbo tiger prawn with yuzu pepper). tokudai no garlic fuumi (asparagus with wafu sauce and sesame). wagyu no sumibiyaki (wagyu beef served with truffle mayonnaise). gindara no saikyo miso yaki (miso marinated black cod wrapped in hoba leaf). gyuhire sumibiyaki karami sauce zuke (spicy beef tenderloin with sesame, red chilli and sweet soy). green tea and banana cake with coconut ice cream and toffee sauce. yuzu “hokkaido” cheesecake with raspberry and black sesame.
If you haven’t visited Zuma yet I would definitely recommend that you go. It is definitely an incredible experience. If you need a place for a special occasion you will not be disappointed. If you want to stop in for drinks or check it out for lunch, this is the place. If for whatever reason you haven’t been to Zuma. Stop. Make a plan. Go visit Zuma!
Al Maryah Island
t +971 2 401 5900
online reservations available
Lunch: Sun – Thurs
Sat 12.00 – 15.00
12.00 – 15.30
Brunch: Fri 12.30 – 16.00
Dinner: Sat – Wed
Thurs & Fri19.00 – 00.00
19.00 – 01.00
Zuma bar and lounge
Sat – Wed 12.00 – 01.00
Thurs & Fri 12.00 – 02.00
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