As fans of Rainer Becker we went back to where it all began – the original concept, Zuma which like his other ventures was influenced by his time in Japan. In 2002 Rainer Becker introduced this modern elegant and sophisticated cuisine philosophy, inspired by the more informal Japanese dining style – Izakaya. Zuma, is essentially made up of three different components: the main kitchen (which offers a selection of contemporary dishes), the Sushi Bar (dedicated sushi chefs), and of course the Robata Grill (a concept which originates from the cooking style of northern Japanese fishermen) which is the main feature at ROKA, Rainer’s other venture.
The essential component of Zuma is its surroundings, which are inspired by the four elements of Earth, Fire, Water and Air. The esteemed Japanese design company “Super Potato” was commissioned to materialise the vision. Its designer, Noriyoshi Muramatsu, quickly developed an emotional attachment to the project and used his expertise, both spiritually and aesthetically – introducing calming water features and antique pine, re-cycled from old Japanese houses, into the design. Noriyoshi Muramatsu is still as involved in the creation of the interiors in each Zuma worldwide, as he was with the first in 2002.
We went along to try the innovative range of drinks that are designed to perfectly complement the cuisine, after all, Zuma boasts the first sake sommelier in Europe. Such is Becker’s dedication to sake, that he serves 40 different varieties, including his own Biwa no Choju, which is brewed exclusively for Zuma from the waters of Lake Biwa in the Shiga prefecture. The lake’s natural mineral water was made legendary in Japan by the last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshiro, who in the 15th century created the rules that govern Japanese cooking styles and tea ceremonies today.
The award-winning bar is a destination in its own right, and this unique venue is renowned for its signature cocktails and select Japanese spirits. We were ready to put this to the test and having spoken to Tiziano (bartender) about our usual preferred cocktails we jumped straight in with a raspberry and passion fruit martini and Zuma bellini to start us off.
Our lovely waitress Palma suggested we try a selection of Zuma favourites so we left our food choices in her capable hands (she did not disappoint). A never ending selection of beautifully presented dishes slowly began to appear at our table including the most delicious maki roll selection, fresh and divine sliced yellowtail with green chilli relish, ponzu and pickled garlic, tasty tiger prawn and assorted vegetable tempura, seared salmon with lime shiso soy, tender and perfectly cooked spicy beef tenderloin with sesame, red chilli and sweet soy and crispy fried squid with green chilli and lime. We ordered some champagne and an old fashioned to wash down these exquisite dishes and take a mini break from the feast in front of us. Succulent marinated black cod wrapped in hoba leaf (we can totally see why this is so popular, it’s absolutely divine) and a tender seared beef with soy, ginger, lime and coriander accompanied with asparagus with wafu sauce and sesame and shitake mushroom with garlic and soy butter. More drinks followed as Tiziano sent over a Japanese penicillin and another glass of champagne (Ruinart blanc de blanc).
Having consumed all of the wonderful food, we simply had no room left for dessert. Instead Tiziano recommended another round of drinks, picking 1863 Brut by Moutard and Roka Hanyu Vintage 2000.
For Chef Rainer Becker, Zuma is about a complete dining experience and we can totally relate. Everything was just amazing, the drinks, the decor, the vibes and of course the food, we can’t wait to come back.