Haute Food: Zuma’s Latest “From the Grill”

Renowned for its elegant contemporary design, excellent service and innovative Japanese cuisine, since its opening in 2008 London’s award-wining restaurant Zuma has quickly become one of the most popular evening spots in Dubai.  I had the pleasure of experiencing firsthand the genius of Zuma’s recipes over a lunch featuring the restaurant’s new menu “From the Grill” which uses the traditional Japanese Robata to create simple, delicious cuts of meat complimented by unusual flavors. Chief Director of Operations for the Middle East Ajaz Sheikh joined me in my review and explained in detail the exquisite culinary nature of each dish.

Over a decadent lunch whereby I feasted on a delicious array elegantly sliced meat served with exquisitely prepared accompaniments, Ajaz explained to me the origins of Zuma’s culinary creations which originate from Zuma’s founder German chef Rainer Becker. Becker was influenced by the informal Japanese dining style called Izakaya which he witnessed while working in Toyko for six years. Upon returning to London he developed the ZUMA concept of authentic without being overly traditional Japanese cuisine thus imbuing what he learned of food and culture of Japan with a contemporary international twist.

“From the Grill” is an example of the restaurant’s innovative Japanese cuisine. It is offered as an extension of Zuma’s Robata Grill available as part of the a la carte menu and includes the finest quality Wagyu steaks sourced from the world’s best suppliers. The Robata grill is an essential element in Japanese cuisine and originates from the cooking style of northern Japanese fishermen who successfully enhanced the taste of simple ingredients by adding a bit of salt and charcoal.

My meal began with starters of Miso soup, a succulent thinly sliced Seabass with yuzu and truffle oil dressing (quickly becoming one of my favorites), a fresh tomato and eggplant salad with ginger and spring onion dressing, and seared beef with oriental dressing. Zuma staples Salmon nigiri and Salmon sashimi also arrived as well as the popular creamy Prawn and black cod gyoza with chili ponzu just enough to freshen one’s palette before venturing onto the main course.

I will admit that I wouldn’t readily associate meat dishes with the light refined and delicately prepared plates of Japanese cuisine; yet the way in which Zuma has prepared its new menu from the Robata Grill proved me quite wrong. For meat lovers and those who are passionate about the dainty bites found at a typical Japanese restaurant, this is the perfect marriage. My main included a USA Porterhouse steak served in long elegant strips, Waygu Sirloin from Australia with a marbling of grade 7 with a set sauce of truffle mayonnaise, spicy ponzu, tahoon and yuzu koshou mayonnaise, chili yuzu relish and smoked sea salt, and Korean chili paste. Side dishes included my favorite veggie plate of grilled eggplant with barley miso and chive as well as roast potato with shiso butter and lime sauce. Each dish was also accompanied by smoked salt and fresh wasabi  to enhance the intense flavors from the grill.

An impressive way to  involve meat dishes with a Japanese touch, even the roasted potatoes fit nicely with this delicious variety of meats and unusual flavors. A seemingly East meets West culinary concoction, for American meat lovers such a menu takes your steak to a whole new level of sophistication and refined taste.

When my meal came to a close I was greatly satisfied without the feeling of having over-indulged (even though I did). Once again, Zuma achieves a top score in excellent atmosphere and service, and of course, in sophisticated and highly original Japanese cuisine. The new menu “From the Grill” is sure to please.

For bookings, please call 04 425 5660

email reservations@zumarestaurant.ae