We are always beyond thrilled to visit our favourite city destination, New York, and this trip was an even bigger treat as we were going shopping during Thanksgiving and we had learned that one of our favourite Japanese restaurants, Zuma, had opened on 261 Madison Avenue – the ninth outpost in its international collection. The restaurant has been open in NYC since 21 January 2015 and continues to deliver Rainer Becker’s vision, passion, heritage and innovation that characterises Japanese cuisine.
“New York has an energy that is unmatched by any city in the world and I have always been impressed by the quality of food and incomparable dining experiences here,” said Zuma creator and co-founder Rainer Becker. “We are excited to join this culinary community and hope that guests will enjoy not only our interpretation of Japanese cuisine, but an experience that reflects the vitality of this great city.“
Tokyo-based designer, Noriyoshi Muramatsu founder of Studio Glitt, has worked with Becker to design all nine international locations so the signature aesthetics are visible at this one too. The restaurant features a main kitchen, sushi counter, and a robata grill that all produce dishes designed to be shared. Executive Chef Oliver Lange leads Zuma New York’s kitchen in collaboration with Zuma’s Group Head Sushi Chef, Kazutoshi Endo, and Group Executive Chef Bjoern Weissgerber.
The menu offers signature dishes including tsubu-miso gake hinadori no oven taki – barley miso chicken oven roasted over cedar wood, bone-in ribeye with fresh truffle, kinoko no kama meshi – rice hot pot with wild mushrooms and Japanese vegetables and suzuki no sashimi – seabass sashimi with yuzu and salmon roe.
We chose the prix-fixe menu Omakase tasting menus as we couldn’t decide on what to have (we always want everything). We decided on the premium option upon our lovely waiter Jessie’s recommendation and ordered prosecco to wash it down (we were on vacation after all). The menu consisted of 12 delicious dishes that leave you wanting more after each bite. The selection included Zuma classic sushi and sashimi options that were a dream, meaty options such as pork belly skewers and Zuma signatures including kinoko no kama meshi – rice hot pot with wild mushrooms, and the main event was a deliciously flavoursome and buttery melt in your mouth wagua beef with shataki mushrooms. Our Sommelier Samuel insisted we try this dish with a sake and recommended the sake dassai 23. As far as sake goes, we have tasted some of the best at Zuma and Roka and are somewhat converted and we will always try one when dining here – they never disappoint! Zuma has a comprehensive list of approximately 70 different varieties of premium sakes including the exclusive Zuma Ginjo developed by the Sommelier team in conjunction with Akitabare brewery, Akita prefecture Japan. In addition, award-winning signature cocktails are crafted by Bar Manager Jose Cespedes and wines selected by Head Sommelier Davis Anderson III. The food and drinks here are second to none.
We finished our culinary adventure on a dessert platter of exotic fruits, chocolate cake and cheesecake – pure heaven!
Dinner done, we met back up with Christian Wild (General Manager at Zuma NYC), who has been with the group for some time and had previously worked in London and Bangkok. He had welcomed us earlier with a glass of bubbles (we love his style) and gave us a quick overview, promising to give us a tour of the upstairs lounge and private rooms. To get upstairs guests can either take the glass elevator or the suspended steel staircase to the second floor (we took the latter – we needed to walk some of this deliciousness off). The focal point of the room is an illuminated resin island bar. The lounge features luxurious burgundy and cherry-coloured leather and suede armchairs and glass and monkeypod wood tables, creating an atmosphere of relaxed elegance. Near the bar, a slatted wood corridor accented with sculptural rice paper lamps leads to two private dining rooms where diners can experience Zuma in a more intimate setting. The private rooms are amazing – you can view the buzzy restaurant from above and are perfectly equipped for all occasions such as weddings or birthday gatherings or corporate events. Absolutely stylish and beautifully done!
Zuma is relaxed, informal, with good service, attentive and knowledgeable staff and diners who look like they are enjoying the experience. We took a first time Zuma goer to get their thoughts, and unsurprisingly they were impressed. The buzzy, ambience and fine dining lured them in, and we think it’s safe to say Zuma has acquired new fans and will fit in perfectly with all that NYC has to offer…We can’t wait to go back!
Zuma is open for lunch Monday – Saturday from 11:45 AM to 3:00 PM and dinner Monday – Saturday from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM.
The ZUMA bar & lounge is open Monday – Saturday from 3:00 PM to 12:00 PM.
Reservations can be made by calling 212.544.9862