Being in the midst of opening an iconic hotel I know anticipation. And there is genuine anticipation for Zuma in New York City. I have been asked more than a couple times for reservations at Zuma in 2014 only to let the guests know that they were not open yet. Well, the wait is now over. Zuma is a contemporary Japanese restaurant with locations in Hong Kong, London, Miami, Istanbul and Dubai to name a few locations. The New York location is opening next week and I was lucky enough to try it out during the soft opening.
Zuma is an expansive space featuring stone walls and gorgeous teaked wood, a yin and yang if you will. The main dining room has both a sushi bar, a yakitori counter and a large bar. The upstairs bar features more seating and a lounge area where dinner reservations can be made and you can look over the main dining room. The private dining rooms are also on the second level with many configuration options. The room was buzzy and loud, probably due to the reverberations from the stone walls. I sat at the sushi bar and loved the theater of the Sushi Chefs preparing the dishes. The Yakitori/grill counter looked less appealing as there were stacks of dishes in front of the diners and the chef of to the side barking orders.
But let's get to the food and drink. The two cocktails I had were flavorful and though there was definitely alcohol, you could not taste it. The Rubabu is their signature cocktail with with vodka, sake, rhubarb, and passionfruit. Fruity and refreshing. Also had a Cooler made with tequila that was fantastic. Food was gorgeously presented and everything tasted fantastic. Highlights for me were:
- Beef Tataki with pickled daikon and shaved truffles - slices of raw beef wrapped around pickled radishes and topped with earthy slivers of truffles
- Yellowtail sashimi with pickled garlic slices and a ponzu green chili relish
- Seared scallops on a butter sauce topped with something similar to a plum gastrique and shisho leaves
- Chawanmushi for dessert - creamy custard with slices of tropical fruit
Delicious food, buzzy atmosphere, great service and a beautiful setting; Zuma New York has all the ingredients for success. Zuma has a built in fan base and I believe that newcomers to this will join the into the hype.