Savvy Londoners are hard to impress, but this newcomer should win them over with its playful interiors, remarkably good food and links to starry investors Enrique glesias and Rafael Nadal. Based in the Spanish-owned ME hotel (but with its own entrance on Aldwych), Zela comes tricked out like a fantasy tropical forest complete with a cheerful melange of bright-blue banquettes, bamboo furniture, Spanish tiles and wooden floors. There are also high stools at the sushi counter, plus a cocktail bar and a DJ station. It’s a little bit crazy, but great fun.
The food is billed as ‘Meppon’, Japanese technique coupled with Mediterranean ingredients, and Zela’s light, fresh, often raw dishes are bang on target for fashionable, health-conscious diners. Thinly sliced scallops are dusted with dried chorizo for contrasting taste and texture, while yellowtail tiradito is bathed in a punchy chilli ponzu sauce. Familiar maki rolls include soft-shell crab and avocado with cucumber, but we prefer the standout red prawns with sushi rice and shreds of radish. You must suck the head – utterly delicious.
Pricey mains involve Wagyu beef, grilled lobster and caviar-dressed luxuries, although those on slimmer budgets might prefer lightly seared tuna tataki with almonds and mojama or a quirky take on duck à l’orange served with steamed buns. Do leave room for the white chocolate ice cream with citrus and vanilla jelly or – better still – order the plate of mixed desserts, a real show-stopper. Local businesses will enjoy Zela for its power breakfasts and lunches, while theatregoers and hot dates will warm to the seductive mood at night.