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The Zuma experience is split into two floors — the upper floor is reserved for casual drinks and light bites, while the downstairs area feels slightly more buttoned-up and lends itself to longer and more refined fare. Known for attracting a hip and young clientele to its free-flow brunches on the weekends, the restaurant feels more business-friendly during the week. Tables are separated by what feels like an intimate amount of space, with a long marble counters located alongside the open kitchen as an additional seating arrangement. Well-heeled banker types frequent this place, so gentlemen should be expected to suit up in similar fashion.
Under the guidance of new chef Samuel Wilkes, the restaurant has launched an exciting array of new dishes, but we kept to observing the quality of the classics on this particular visit. The miso marinated black cod wrapped in hobo leaf – one of the restaurant's most well-known dishes, according to Zuma patrons we surveyed in London and Hong Kong — did not disappoint. The botanic fragrance of the hobo leaf is embedded within the sweet and tender black cod fillet, which intensifies with every bite. Though primarily known as a destination for quality sushi and sashimi, the establishment impressed us with its delectable beef creations: the Japanese wagyu tataki with truffle ponzu stood out in the starters section, with the truffle ponzu sauce delivering a strong and savoury punch without overpowering the taste of the beef, matched perfectly with bits of soy ginger and coriander. Cut in big chunks, The ____ beef hits that sweet spot of juicy and fattiness, its delectability enhanced with garlic flakes on top. It's lightly seasoned just a dabble of special sauce, which doesn’t take away from the natural flavours of the meat. In a refreshing twist, the sliced yellowtail, green chili relish, ponzu and pickled garlic is juxtaposed in texture by shiso leaves and edible flowers as garnish, lending to a mouthful of rich textures.
The restaurant offers your standard list of reds and whites, but what's more worthy of highlighting at Zuma is its extensive whiskey collection. The list features distilleries from a diverse regions in Japan, including rare finds from Karuizawa. The Japanese whiskey sour — which comes in a bottle that serves two, shaken at the table — is a great cocktail to start the night with.
Dinner at Zuma is in high demand, so a two-hour slot is allotted to customers dining on busy nights. The staff can be eager to implement that time limit: we were reminded by at least three different waiters over the course of our meal, with one of them constantly checking his watch from a close distance. Such attentiveness can be great, but should be toned down so that a more relaxed dining experience can be enjoyed.
Many see Zuma as the ideal spot for a celebratory dinner, and at just under HK $2,000 for a light three-course meal for two, this is an accurate assessment.