Friday, December 4, 2020

Fun Hangout

A couple weeks ago I popped by Zuma to check out some of their new dishes after work. With the evenings now much cooled down as we approached winter, their outdoor terrace provided the perfect setting for a pre-meal drink before we sat down inside their dining area for a long meal prepared by their Chef Oscar Luzon de Arcos. Edamame was perhaps the bar snack of choice in every contemporary Japanese-inspired dining places but I particularly like this version here with drizzle of Amalfi lemon juice and shichimi pepper, bringing up a notch of the usual version. 

We slowly made our move to the table inside as we finished up our drink. The dining area was fairly packed on a Thursday evening, with the three open kitchens busy throughout the evening getting food out to eager customers. We began with a series of seafood dishes – the spicy crab soup with clams was surprisingly good, with a touch of miso, plenty of umami flavor from the crabs and clams and the spicy flavor reminded me somewhat of the Thai Tom Yum or Creole style stew. 

Chef Oscar then showed up with the set of seared toro nigiri sushi, and at the table he carefully torched the surface of fatty tuna piece and topped with caviar for that touch of luxury. We then continued with even more caviar (and tuna) with the salmon and tuna tartare served with rice crackers and lotus root chips – what we needed to do was the carefully spoon everything onto the cracker or chips and had it in one bite. It’s certainly a fun dish to have as a starter. 

Our sushi/sashimi platter then arrived in rather spectacular manner in a large round platter with a dozen of different items carefully arranged in different layers. Glad to see the seasonal sanma (Pacific saury) being offered as sashimi and I love its rich flavor. The pieces of Akamutsu (blackthroat seaperch) were another highlight, with its skin slightly torched and served with drizzles of sudachi juice and shiso flowers. Then we moved onto a few grilled dishes, prepared in the robatayaki kitchen right in front of us. The grilled king crab leg came in decent size, cooked in open fire and finished with the lime-ponzu butter with the right hint of acidity. Grilled corn was another awesome dish, served with sesame and shichimi pepper on top and shiso butter underneath. 

Of the two main courses served, I personally preferred the Chilean sesabass more than the steak, with the former broiled and served with a green chili dressing while the beef was done on the pan with a sweet soy glaze. Our desserts were again served in a large platter – I love their soft and rich green tea banana cake served with ice-cream, and also the cold “chawanmushi”, which is the mango-coconut custard with passion fruit foam served in a small cup. 

Zuma is definitely not the place I wanted for the “authentic” Japanese sushi-ya experience, but as a hangout spot with simple and casual food and drink and cool vibe, they were right to the point. 

(Meal was by invitation)

When? November 19 2020
Where? Zuma, Level 5 and 6, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Chilean Sea Bass with Green Chili Ginger Dressing
Drink? Rakufuumai Shiboritate Nama Junmai Ginjo - Izumibashi Shuzo, Kanagawa Prefecture
楽風舞しぼりたて純米吟醸 - 神奈川県泉橋酒造

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