Food Review: Zuma Dubai plates up quality fare

Top-notch ingredients plated up in a no-nonsense manner is the USP of this contemporary Japanese hotspot


Ambica Sachin

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Published: Fri 30 Sep 2022, 6:44 PM

Last updated: Wed 19 Oct 2022, 1:47 PM

It’s nestled right in the heart of Dubai’s financial district, DIFC, and the view as we glance out is of a dusty parking lot where the mid-afternoon breeze has caused a wayward plastic bag to bop up and down. Inside it is cool and haute with the two-level dining area quickly filling up with a redolent Sunday afternoon crowd — friends meeting up for a chat, families enjoying a meal together — and the nimble-footed staff waltz in and out handing over a dish here and exchanging a pleasantry there about the food.

The dishes, we are informed, will be brought to the table as and when they are ready, in no particular order leaving us in a bit of suspense. We are, therefore, delightfully relieved when the stunning saffron roe studded crab salad with refreshing chunks of avocado nestled in between slivers of crab meat and green leaves arrives first. It is bitingly fresh and crunchy and sweet with the rich fleshy crabmeat complimented by the sour-tinged sesame dressing.

The squid rings with chilli rounds and a wedge of lime are the bite-and melt variety, not the irritatingly chewy ones that take forever to swallow. But it is the Langoustine that truly leaves our palate gob smacked. The wispy, crispy, strands of Kataifi pastry have a delightful crunch as you bite through to the melt-in-your mouth texture lobster meat inside.

The dynamite spider roll — battered soft-shell crab rolled inside sushi rice — looks intimidating in comparison, with its tentacle like projections, and it takes us a few attempts before we muster up courage to savour one without damaging our mouth!

The award winning fine-dining venue lives up to its sophisticated vibe that Dubai has been privy to since the global outpost opened its doors here in 2008. Serving up contemporary Japanese cuisine, that remains authentic to its roots while infusing it with a modern touch, Zuma has no doubt stood the test of time as evidenced from the tightly packed dining area.

As the buzz begins to increase its tempo we find ourselves gravitating towards the mains - an eye-catchy mahogany hued miso marinated black cod with a palate-teasing glaze wrapped delicately in hoba — Japanese magnolia leaf. With an appealing sweet char grilled glaze complimented by a moist flaky flesh, this signature dish is all the excuse you need actually to book in to Zuma.

The asparagus with wafu sauce and sesame and the roasted whole potato that our server quickly whips up into a salad with a generous dollop of shiso chilli ponzu butter and a squeeze of lemon, stand their ground and could well have been eaten on its own such is their individual star qualities.

And just as we were about to call it a day comes the sesame studded beef tenderloin in a sweet spy and red chilli sauce that we dunked our steamed rice with black same seeds into — the latter being at best a ’side dish’ since it doesn’t have any redeeming taste to stand by itself.

Like all good, high-end, book-ahead-to-avoid-disappointment eateries worth its long stylish queue of the city’s ‘it’ people, Zuma ends an eye-popping meal with a delicious stamp. The mocha bamboo, coffee-miso ice cream with kinako cake cocoa — the crumble and choc sauce proving our undoing and a tapioca ice cream that had us questioning our taste buds — ensured we’d be back for a more judicious selection of our favourites.

Beyond the optics and the aura of a must-eat-here-to-be-counted-among-the-city’s in crowd vibe, Zuma’s draw is an admirable focus on quality ingredients and a simple elegant presentation that despite all the toasted sesame seeds and the honey-infused tempering has that ‘wow, this is good,’ feel about it. And that alone is worth all the hype, we believe. Sometimes a restaurant without a view is just what you need to focus on some truly exceptional food.

A meal for two at Zuma Dubai will come upto approximately Dh600-800 (average price)

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