My fellow London foodies are often ‘chasing’ the new restaurants and the next exciting opening. But some London restaurants have truly stood the test of time to become London institutions. Not only has Zuma been a stalwart on the London restaurant scene for fifteen years but was the first of a highly successful international brand. A firm favourite of mine for many years (I recall first visiting about ten years ago and returning many times since) I was seriously honoured to be invited to lunch to celebrate the restaurant’s 15th birthday and the launch of a 15th anniversary tasting menu available in October.
As soon as I saw the menu, I knew we were in for a treat as it had been compiled by co-owner Rainer Becker to include the most popular dishes of the past 15 years. Along with business partner Arjun Waney, Rainer Becker opened Zuma London in 2002; the eleven international outposts including Hong Kong, Dubai and Miami followed along with sister restaurant brand Roka (another favourite of mine) and most recently Oblix in the Shard. I was also thrilled to meet the German-born restaurant entrepreneur himself having loved his restaurants for so many years. Starting by nibbling on some edamame beans and sipping on Bille-cart Salmon Brut Reserve champagne, the tasting menu kicks with perfect thinly sliced semi fatty tuna, chilli, coriander and sesame, already setting the bar high.
A heady plate of thinly sliced sea bass with yuzu, truffle oil and salmon roe was also excellent and something I’d order myself again and again.
I know it’s a firm favourite for many people but personally I’m not a huge fan of spinach with sesame sauce. I loved the presentation of the dish and it was certainly popular around the table.
Next on the table is the finest freshly seared wagyu sirloin tataki with black truffle ponzu – the incredible quality meat is simply melt in the mouth.
Whilst the tofu is silky on the inside and perfectly crisp on the outside, served with the ideal accompaniment of avocado and Japanese herbs. These two dishes were perfectly paired with a delicious Austrian white wine, Wieninger ‘wiener gemischter satz 2015’. Admiring the restaurant interior, I don’t think it’s changed much since I first set foot in the restaurant but the organic wooden and stone interiors and surrounding an open kitchen have never dated. The entrance itself is hard to miss but that’s all part on the special, exclusive feel that Zuma London has maintained for the past fifteen years. The inspiration comes from the informal Izakaya style of eating in Japan where Rainer Becker spent six years – the first of it’s kind in London, Zuma transformed Londoner’s ideas of Japanese cuisine.
The next course (my favourite!) featured the finest sashimi including salmon, yellow tail and tuna as well as a selection of nigiri and maki rolls. The sushi had been so precisely prepared that we were told any additional soya sauce would be unnecessary. A sake pairing is offered with this course though I personally had to decline a glass of the kimura ginjo which had been imported from Japan.
Next comes the hot stuff and, just like everything at Zuma, this is done exceptionally well.
Grilled chilean sea bass flaked apart beautifully and is perfectly complimented with green chilli and ginger dressing.
Shiitake mushroom with garlic and soy butter have that almost indescribable umami taste – rich, somewhat meaty and with the perfect level of salt.
Finally a beautifully cooked spicy beef tenderloin was enhanced with sesame, red chilli and sweet soy and paired with a glass of red Castello di Albola Chianti Classico rieserva. It’s a quite a significant amount of food but it won’t leave you feeling overly stuffed and plenty of room for the epic dessert platter.
The chocolate melting pudding with the Zuma logo emblazoned has become iconic in London and was joined by delicious ice creams and sorbets as well as refreshing fresh fruits to share around the table.
Need I really say more? Zuma has been one of my favourite restaurant in London for many, many years and here’s to the next fifteen successful years!
The 15th Anniversary Tasting Menu will be available from 2nd October and throughout the month.
5 Raphael Street
020 7584 1010
I was a guest for this press event.