Zuma, DIFC, Dubai

HONESTLY’S VERDICT
In a word: Cool, chic, classy.
Food: Mouthwatering.
Service: Fast and attentive.
Presentation: Stunning.
Ambience: Sumptuous surroundings, just a shame that people are allowed to smoke in dining areas.
Location: In the financial district – easily accessible, especially if you work there!  It’s worth the drive/taxi/metro journey if you don’t.
Value for money: Great value lunch menus for some really great Japanese staples, don’t get me wrong, it’s not cheap, but worth every penny.
Worth a visit?:  Absolutely, any time of the day, you won’t be disappointed by the food, interiors or service.

Zuma combines restaurant with gallery-style lounge bar and private dining areas, and is generally rated as one of Dubai’s coolest dining/drinking/partying options.  And by cool, I mean chic and sophisticated cool…totally Dubai.

Interior-wise, there’s a cool Japanese influence, mixed with modern and traditional Arabic designs.  By mix, I mean delicate cutout work, bamboo, glass, and sumptuous fabrics in opulent colours set against industrial-finished salvaged metals.  I would love to show you my photos of the beautiful interiors, which were designed by Noriyoshi Muramatsu of Studio Glitt, but alas, my attempts to take photos inside Zuma of anything but the food were scuppered – apparently it’s against Zuma’s law(!) to allow you to take photos of their interiors. I found this out the hard way; by getting asked not to take photos by our waiter.  I felt embarrassed, like I’d been told off at school.  However, after explaining my mission to the assistant manager, Zuma did redeem themselves by apologising and then plying me with dessert to pacify me.  The particular objection was around protecting their interior design and the identity of their customers, fair enough on the latter.  Luckily you can just google ‘zuma dubai interiors‘ to see all the images you like.

Just a taste of the interiors…the photo that got me told off!

It’s just such a shame that you’re still allowed to smoke inside food establishments in Dubai.  Time and time again i’ve been put off my food by clouds of smoke from the table behind/infront/next to me, this was no exception.

The Food:

Zuma was the perfect choice for our girly work lunch where we took advantage of their rather fabulous lunch-time offering: the Ebisu Menus.  Pick four courses from the set menu or two from the cheaper express version.

My colleague’s selection from the Ebisu menu

The food is faultless; it’s served quickly, presented elegantly, the taste screams of quality ingredients and traditional healthy cooking methods.  For me, everything tastes authentically Japanese, a mix of crisp and clean with slightly sticky and sweet, perfectly cooked and very moreish, just like my miso marinated black cod don buri.

After the miso soup starter, my black cod came served in a deep bowl on a mound of rice, which complemented the sweet sticky moistness of the perfectly cooked fish.  Serving size was just right for lunch, and even left a little bit of room for dessert.  I’d highly recommend this dish, each time I think about it my mouth waters.

Miso marinated black cod don buri

My dessert came in the form of the Green tea and banana cake with coconut icecream and the Green chilli marinated pineapple with coconut cream, which was a generous offer from the management after the photo incident, and a dish that the assistant manager wouldn’t let me leave without trying.  Again, I can’t fault the speed of service or the taste or presentation of the dishes.

The cake came warmed, dripping with toffee sauce and a dollop of light coconut icecream.  It was divine.  The cake itself was light and moist in texture, with a subtle flavour of banana but no real sense of the green tea, and it just melted on contact with my tongue.

Green tea and banana cake with coconut icecream 

The pineapple dessert came served in a huge square glass, and was a layered affair of a chunky pineapple sauce base, a layer of coconut cream topped with a crystalline granita and slice of dried pineapple to decorate.  This is a real innocent looking dessert, however, as the name suggests there is a very clever and subtle kick of the green chill that comes through.  Despite my love for the cake, I couldn’t put this one down, it was refreshing and bright.

Green chili marinated pineapple with coconut cream

Presentation:

The ever-effective clean and simple approach here, crisp whites complemented by attractive glazed rustic-feeling chunky service ware.  The food itself is both presented and served with care and attention.

Pricing:

Ebisu express menu AED 62 – soup & main course.

Ebisu menu AED 120 – soup & three courses.

From what I hear, the brunch is worth every penny, a relaxed classy affair where you pick from a set a la carte menu and top up on as much Zuma sushi, sashimi and other Japanese treats as you can manage.  AED315 to AED550.

Service:

Zuma follows the Japanese tradition of izakaya dining where food accompanies your drinks and dishes are shared.  There’s no waiting around here; your order is taken and within minutes your sipping on miso soup, you look again and you’ve got a table full of delicious dishes.

The service is fantastic; fast and attentive, but for me I felt at times it was in danger of slipping into pretentious and overprotective.

Contact:

Tel: +971 4425 5660

Email: reservations@zumarestaurant.ae

www.zumarestaurant.com

Zuma on Facebook

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