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5 Raphael Street
020 7584 1010
Fifteen years on and London is still deeply in love with world-class Zuma: “fabulous” says one fan, “can’t beat it” exclaims another avid supporter. And the waves of adoration stretch far beyond the capital itself: this high-gloss, big-money rendezvous draws in a global cast of A-listers and jetsetters, all attracted by the age-defying industrial-Zen interiors and the sleek designer mix of rough-hewn wood, polished granite and shiny steel. Tables are predictably hard to come by, but we prefer chancing our arm with the no-bookings ringside seats by the kitchen. Kick off with a trend-setting cocktail (perhaps Wild Yasei, a macho yet graceful blend of rye bourbon and wild-cherry tea syrup), and expect to pay top dollar for the food. In return you’ll be offered some of the finest Japanese cuisine in the capital: sliced seared tuna with chilli, daikon and ponzu; warm aubergine in sweet miso (an umami-laden masterpiece); robata-grilled jumbo tiger prawns with yuzu pepper; marinated baby chicken roasted on cedar wood, and – of course – the much-imitated, but never-bettered black cod. Service is flawless, and for the final flourish, we suggest asking the dedicated saké sommelier for a tour of his exquisite list. In a word, awesome.
SquareMeal Award - Best New Restaurant
Best New World Wines
SquareMeal Award - Restaurant Of The Year
Best in Knightsbridge
Cool restaurants in London
Best chef's counters
London's Hot 100 Restaurants
Best Japanese restaurants in London
Best restaurants for business
Best London restaurants for star spotting
SquareMeal 3 Stars
5 Raphael Street
020 7584 1010
Knightsbridge Tube Station 192m
Hyde Park Corner Tube Station 500m
Harvey Nichols 226m
Mon-Sun 12N-3pm (Sat-Sun -3.30pm) 6-11pm (Sun -10.30pm)
There’s a choice of spaces at Zuma. Either sit in the semi-private space adjoining the sake bar and lounge, with it characterful Tosho table, or try the more traditional and private Kotatsu Room for 12-14 seated at a sunken table.
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
Every time we go it's a treat. Amazingly fantastic food. Great sake and cocktails.
Food + drink: 5
Zuma has become almost an institution on the London dining scene. Even more than 10 years on from opening it can still be hard to get a table here. Meanwhile, the Zuma concept has been broadened across London (think Roka) and the rest of the world (versions of the original in Dubai and beyond). It would be easy for a restaurant in such a position to dine out on its success, but standards have stayed consistently high. A recent lunchtime visit demonstrated that the food remains as good as ever. The atmosphere, however, left quite a lot to be desired. Furthermore, this is not a place to go if you’re dining out on a budget, for eateries with large reputations in Knightsbridge locations obviously don’t come cheap. The Zuma concept is to combine sushi and sashimi with other Japanese-influenced cooking ranging from robata-grilled beef to the now-famous black cod speciality. Dishes come when they’re ready, so diners are entertained to a mash-up of warm and cold, starts and mains, delivered with brisk efficiency, almost to the point of being over-conscientious. On this point, some dishes were whisked away before they had been fully finished in an effort to keep the buzz going. None of our dishes – while present – disappointed either in terms of presentation or taste. The maki rolls were superbly fresh, the soft-shell crab deliciously tender and the beef packed with flavour, to name but a few examples. Our drink pairing – an aged orange wine from South African – was also inspired, if again far from cheap. So far, so good (especially since someone else was paying!), but the venue is the main factor that would make me consider whether to return of my own volition. The room is somewhat depressing with almost no natural light and ugly industrial piping exposed on the ceiling, factors that perhaps matter less when on an evening out, but seem incongruous of a lunchtime. Furthermore, the place felt far from intimate. There were many large groups of milling around, sometimes between tables, a constant flow of air-kissing and hand-shaking. Few looked as if they were enjoying themselves, present more to be seen rather than to dine. Why stare at your mobile phone when there is world-class food in front of you? Restaurants can’t choose their diners, but (somewhat discerning) diners can choose their restaurants.
For as long as I have been regularly dining in London Zuma has always had a fond place in my heart. The simple reason is that I have never had a bad experience here and despite many copy-cat imitations and an expanding empire of its own (there are now ten other restaurants parading under the Zuma brand outside London), it remains simply the best place in town for contemporary Japanese food. A recent visit there reminded me of all the things that make Zuma what it is: stunning décor (which has remained broadly unchanged), a great atmosphere and, of course, first-class food and drink. The menu offers a broad spectrum of options from salads, sushi and sashimi through to grilled options and then the restaurant’s signature dishes. Best is to come as part of a group, share everything and try as much as possible. Stand-out items from our meal included the ‘dynamite spider roll’ (which comprises soft shell crab, chilli mayonnaise, cucumber and wasabi sauce) as well as the grilled seabass. From the signature dishes, the roasted lobster with green chilli and garlic hojiso butter is a must, and a dish one would willing return to time and again. It is also well worth sampling the sake here, especially with a range of over 40 available. Feel willing to ask the servers for advice, although again, it is best to sample several if possible (as we did). Service on previous occasions has been somewhat erratic, although most recently, we were not let down. All that Zuma offers does, of course, come at a price. But, it is money well-spent and definitely worth a visit.
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