When I visited: June 2016 and March 2019
Location: London, Knightsbridge
Rating in the Michelin Guide: Recommended
What to wear: Men – jeans or nice trousers and a shirt; women – jeans and a smart top or a smart dress
Ambience: Busy, cool
Course of the meal: Thinly sliced sea bass with yuzu, truffle oil and salmon roe
If I could change one thing: Price
If you are in the Knightsbridge area and fancy a high-quality, light meal, two good options would be Bar Boulud and Zuma. If you are in the mood for extensive sake choices and gorgeous Japanese food, you should go for Zuma.
My partner Owl and I started off with cocktails at the bar – a very fresh drink with watermelon and yuzu sake, and a fruitier concoction of banana, ginger bitters and orange. As soon as our table was ready, we were led over to sit at the granite sushi bar and selected (from the ENORMOUS sake menu) a flowery cold sake with a ‘long’ taste and fairy pure 23% polishing ratio.
Zuma offers set menus as well as a la carte, but either way you normally order a few dishes and they are shared between the diners. While perusing the menu we enjoyed some hot salted edamame beans, then started off with miso soup and pickled vegetables (pickled vegetables are an ongoing trend in Japan, as seen at Tempura Mizuki, Kappa Sakamoto, Gora Kadan restaurant and Seryna).
Next came the standout course of the whole meal – thinly sliced sea bass with yuzu, truffle oil and salmon roe. This was beyond delicious and if a couple more courses had been like this, I would have given this restaurant 5 hoots rather than 4. As it is, my partner Owl is of the opinion that Zuma deserves a Michelin star rather than its current ‘recommended’ rating.
We wanted some sushi so enjoyed California maki rolls as well as the chef’s selection of 6 nigiri pieces – tuna, salmon, prawn, sea bass, sea bream and white fish. We also sampled some lovely tempura – prawn and vegetables (including sweetcorn, pumpkin and carrots). The robata scallops on skewers with shiso and mushrooms were also beautifully flavoured.
For dessert we enjoyed a very light jasmine flower and strawberry Eton mess (pictured) and a small flourless chocolate cake with robata pears and roasted green tea ice cream. Both were wonderful and finished off the meal nicely, together with jasmine tea and green tea.
Throughout the whole meal we had great service from a friendly waiter. One of the strong points of this restaurant is the staff to diners ratio – there are so many staff that even though the restaurant is very popular and busy, you are not kept waiting and you do get individual attention and help with the menu choices if you want it.
We went straight to the table on this visit and sampled some of the tempura (king prawn and mushroom with truffle), edamame beans and miso soup. Our slightly bigger courses were the Wagyu tataki with truffle, sea bass with salmon roe and ponzu sauce, very thin pieces of yellowtail with sauce, scallop skewers, and the meltingly-soft black cod. We also tried some desserts – a much lighter than normal Eton mess …
… and the fun Tajina chocolate with a face:
We enjoyed a lovely balanced small bottle of sake over lunch – a Junmai Daijingo. The staff were attentive as ever, despite the restaurant being very busy on a Friday lunchtime.
I can’t wait to go back to Zuma and try more of the sake and food choices. It is expensive but this is not unusual or unexpected in Knightsbridge, and you do get good-quality food and drink for your money, as well as great service.