Dubai: Zuma

With the vast number of fine dining options in Dubai, eating at one of them was essential and something that I prioritised during my recent holiday. After some in-depth research, we decided to give Zuma a try. Currently ranked Number 87 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants as well as winning Best Japanese Cuisine in Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards in 2013, Zuma was the perfect choice.

The restaurant is located inside the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and we entered through a hidden entrance that led us to a private lift and into the main dining room that is spread over two storeys. The two dining areas is connected by a beautifully crafted staircase and offers a variety of seating whether you’re after an intimate dining experience or sharing a meal with a big group of friends.

Our meal started with a generously-sized cocktail and lightly salted edamame, which we enjoyed while we studied their menu and decided on what to order. Their menu is divided into different categories, including robata, sushi, sashimi and Zuma dishes and our helpful waiter explained how we could best enjoy the Zuma experience by ordering a variety of dishes in the different categories.

The Zuma salad was a good example on how Zuma incorporates fresh ingredients into their dishes; the combination of the slices of crisp raw asparagus, carrots and cherry tomatoes with young leafy greens, dressed in a light tangy vinaigrette was a great way to jog our appetite and left us wanting more. The tuna and langoustine tartare had a similar tangy flavour that was lightly aromatic, allowing the natural taste of the ingredients to shine through. It was beautifully presented on a bed of ice, ensuring the freshness of the tartare.

Our next two dishes is not as healthy as the above, but we needed a dose of grease, so we got it in the forms of fried soft shell crab and sweetcorn tempura. Both coated in a light layer of golden brown batter, the soft shell crab was served with a side of wasabi mayonnaise while the sweetcorn tempura was served as is. The crab had a crispy and delicate coating and most importantly, it was not over fried, so the meat inside was still moist. The same can be said about the juicy sweet kernels in the sweetcorn tempura, a dish that we nibbled on throughout the meal.

Our waiter suggested that we ordered at least two main dishes, so I opted for the diced ribeye steak, cooked medium rare. I’ve been craving steak for the majority of my holiday, so I devoured it with ease. The steak was lightly seasoned, succulent and perfectly cooked. The grilled tiger prawn served with a drizzle of mayonnaise was neatly presented in its shell. My friend throughly enjoyed this dish!

Despite being rather full from all the food, we decided that ordering dessert was a MUST. My friend enjoyed her Zuma Sundae while I happily wolfed down my marinated strawberries with mochi and ginger ice cream. The faintly tart strawberries was a clever way to balance the sweetness of the ice cream; the gold leaf was an unnecessary but lavish garnish.

Zuma did not disappoint. Each dish was nicely presented, well executed and had a good balance of ingredients and flavours. All the different components in the dish worked well and complimented each other and the entire meal was flawless. It’s hard to describe the atmosphere; the restaurant itself is exquisite, luxurious and grand but I couldn’t help but feel slightly out-of-place. The tables next to us were ordering twice as many dishes as well as bottles of champagne and wine (they clearly had a bigger budget than us) while we watched what we ordered and easily spent over 900 Dirhams. I’m curious to see what their bills totalled up to!

Date: Monday 2 September 2013 | Location: Gate Village 06, DIFC, Dubai | Food: Japanese

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