It’s been a feature of the Knightsbridge landscape for more than a decade, but ultra-trendy Zuma seems as fresh as the day it opened: “this place is just so delicious”, drools one fan. Prospective diners have to negotiate the doormen and by-pass the perma-posse of beautiful people hanging round the grotto-like bar before reaching the ‘industrial-Zen’ dining room.
Serious foodies and singletons head for the sushi counters surrounding the open-plan kitchen, but most people elect to sit in the comfortable, bustling main room, where the music is just the right side of loud, the lighting is kind, and the famous (and infamous) can be seen and admired.
This may be a social destination, but it would be nothing without the food, and the kitchen sends out wave upon wave of “unbelievably good” dishes. Clusters of small plates are ferried out when they’re ready and the idea is to share all those different taste sensations. Crispy squid with chilli and lime may be a London classic now, but fried tofu with a beautiful herb and avocado salad, dressed with ponzu juice, is a step apart. There’s also expertly cut and exquisitely garnished sashimi, as well as spot-on nigiri and maki.
Elsewhere, the house version of black cod (cutely wrapped in a hoba leaf) is slightly heavier on the saké than most other versions, but the robata-grilled fillet of beef with red chilli and soy is simply “magnificent”. East/west crossover desserts such as the pecan pie and kokuto caramel sundae or the melting cherry-blossom flourless chocolate cake are just fabulous too.
Given the clientele, the wine list is unsurprisingly pricey, and it’s backed by premium sakés and some really sexy cocktails, while the green tea is spot-on for those not indulging. “Every time we go it’s a treat”, concludes one fan.