Say the word “Zuma” and pretty much everyone’s eyes will light up. The popular Japanese concept has performed exceptionally well since opening in Dubai’s DIFC district in 2009, securing a record-breaking 16 FACT awards across its UAE branches along the way. But what is about the “Zuma effect” that makes even the most discerning foodie fall in love with this place?
Arriving at Zuma in Dubai is an exciting experience that doesn’t lose its charm even upon repeat visits. The DIFC hotspot boasts an effortlessly cool vibe and sultry interiors, with the setting and décor providing a great first impression. A vibrant square bar area (currently ranked #17 on the world’s 50 Best Bars list) leads to an intimate lounge area. Whilst a more formal dining room sits one level below, where glass-fronted sushi counters provide an element of theatricality to the dining experience.
Sat in the upstairs lounge upon a plush sofa upholstered in a passionate red hue, we’re immediately reminded as to why diners flock to Zuma en masse, resulting in a long waiting list for reservations on any given evening. Zuma’s staff are charismatic yet laid back, resulting in a truly impeccable service style. As a result, we’re given enough space to relax and socialise whilst also being educated on each dish’s food and culinary techniques.
We begin with the flavour-packed wagyu no tataki kuro natsu toryufu nose (AED 205), a FACT favourite that has become a must-order everything we visit. Presenting thin slices of wagyu beef tataki swimming in a beautiful truffle ponzu sauce, the dish epitomises the quality ingredients and bold flavours Zuma has built its sterling reputation upon. The hamachi usuzukuri pirikara, ninniku gake (AED 84) represents another stunning dish, where delicate slithers of sliced yellowtail are topped with a fiery green chilli relish, pickled garlic and a drizzle of ponzu. However, the chutoro tarutaru kyabia Zoe (AED 187) has us genuinely enamoured. A pretty dish that presents fatty tuna belly with an adornment of Oscietra caviar, ready to be slathered across a buttery miso bun.
Sushi has always been the draw at Zuma and our most recent visit proved to be no different. A decadent platter generously topped with classic sushi, nigiri, maki and delicious sashimi offered something for every raw food enthusiast. The presentation amidst a towering ice sculpture will have even the most jaded social media user reaching for their smartphone. Debating over which piece to devour first – wagyu gunkan caviar nose, o toro sashimi or the jumbo sweet shrimp nigiri – in the end, it was survival of the fittest (or rather the fastest) as chopsticks navigated their way around this colourful platter of gastronomic goodness.
For mains, we couldn’t resist the famous, melt-in-your-mouth miso marinated black cod wrapped in hoba leaf (AED 205) and the spicy beef tenderloin with sesame, red chilli and sweet soy (AED 194). Both dishes guarantee that Zuma consistency, thus ensuring that we return time (and time) again for these memorable dishes.
If you can squeeze in room for dessert (which we highly recommend you should), the green tea and banana cake (AED 50) served with coconut ice cream and peanut toffee sauce is a worthy choice. However, we truly adore the special chocolate with vanilla bean ice cream. Zuma’s take on a chocolate fondant offers a decadent oozing chocolate cake decorated with the iconic Zuma logo across its top in a gold chocolate font.
The modern Japanese izakaya proudly holds the most accolades in the history of the FACT Dining Awards due to its sheer consistency, proficient service and accomplished cuisine. Whether sat in London, New York, Bangkok or right here in Dubai, diners can expect the same faultless experience. An impressive feat considering Dubai’s competitive dining landscape.
Here’s to more fantastic food and future wins!