Japanese restaurant review: Zuma in Central, Hong Kong
A new sake pairing menu for fall
For those who have lived in Hong Kong for some time, Zuma likely needs no introduction. It’s one of the city’s most popular Japanese restaurants and its bar is on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars. The restaurant has three main areas: the upper floor bar, the outdoor terrace, and the main dining room. All three areas are spacious, a good thing since Zuma is often full even on a weeknight. It’s part of a chain with 11 locations worldwide including London, New York and Dubai.
The food has a well-deserved reputation for being fresh and modern, and their weekend and evening brunches are especially popular. I had to book weeks in advance the last time I went to their brunch, but it was worth it. Each season, Zuma also puts together a pairing menu. For something special this fall, take a look at their new autumn menu that pairs with sake ($2180 per person).
In Japanese cuisine, eating seasonally is common. Naturally, this concept also applies to drinking sake. The rice wine is usually brewed in the winter. After it’s pasteurized, it’s aged in a tank and stored in a cool place during the summer months; this mellows and balances it out. Then it’s served in the fall. Hiyaoroshi is a special type of single pasteurized sake (most sake is pasteurized twice) that is released in the fall. Zuma’s Head Sommelier, Juwan Kim, personally selected the restaurant’s hiyaoroshi sake selection during visits to Japanese breweries.
There are ten courses on the menu with a sake pairing for every two courses. The only exceptions being the spicy crab soup and dessert platter at the end.
Shima aji sashimi salad with green apple granita
Oysters with ponzu and chili daikon
Paired with the Fukucho “kosumosu” ginjo hiya-oroshi
Chef’s premium sushi and sashimi selection
Akamutsu with sudachi and fresh wasabi
Paired with the Tsukinokatsura, junmai ginjo hiya-oroshi
Chilean sea bass with green chili ginger dressing
Hokkaido scallops, umeboshi butter and mentaiko
Paired with Gokyo, junmai hiya-oroshi
Niigata snow-aged wagyu sirloin (f1 grade)
Maitake mushrooms and sudachi
Paired with Gozenshu 9 “black” bodaimoto junmai hiya-droshi
Spicy crab soup with fresh yuzu and mushrooms
Deluxe dessert platter
The oysters, sashimi and sushi served were all incredibly fresh. If I had to choose a favourite, it would be the shima aji sashimi salad with green apple granita. Delicate rolls of shima aji-wrapped fresh herbs, rice pops, and a slightly tangy dressing made for a wonderful flavour bomb. The sake chosen helped to enhance and lengthen the flavours in the mouth.
Of the cooked dishes, the Hokkaido scallop course was another one that went very well with the sake pairing. The umbeboshi (salted plum) butter, mentaiko, and scallop combination was fatty, salty and slightly sweet which paired well with the sharper, greener-tasting sake.
The only pairing that didn’t seem to work was the chilean sea bass with green ginger dressing. On their own, both the fish and the sake were lovely. The dressing on the seabass was bold and varied with green chili, onion, radish, and coriander - very delicious. But the sake was also quite strong, almost thick, and seemed to wash off the flavour rather than enhance it.
Zuma’s new autumn tasting menu delivers both on the flavour and educational/fun elements. It would be a nice option for a ‘treat yourself’ evening. Sake fans and newcomers alike will enjoy discovering new sake choices and seeing how it can complement and enhance the flavours in food. The menu itself is wonderful, showcasing the best of the restaurant’s contemporary Japanese vibes.
LANDMARK, 15 Queen's Road Central, Central, 3657 6388
Thanks to Foodie for inviting me to review.