Often, when I think of this blog, I’m reminded that I should’ve started it in…oh, 2007. Or, at least when Instagram was getting off the ground. Anyway, as I was late to the game, there are a number of venues which I visited in the past, but not recently enough to write about. I did visit the Abu Dhabi branch of Zuma when living in the capital, however, it’s been a few years since I’ve made it to the DIFC location.
Enter, Zuma, the original. When I realized Zuma was about to celebrate their 10th anniversary (really, how many restaurants in Dubai live up to this sort of caliber?), I was delighted to have an invitation for lunch. As I entered, one thing became clear — should anyone try and tell you that Zuma isn’t still hitting the same levels it was in the late 2000’s, that person would be wrong. For lunch service on Thursday, even for our reservation at 2 PM, the buzzing restaurant was still completely full (as was the lounge).
We were shown quickly through the bustling dining room to our seats (natural light, FTW, of course). In the educated hands from some of the senior wait staff, we jumped straight into small bites – each a highlight from the menu and perfectly portioned, so as not to overwhelm a diner. For my current carb watching self, I was delighted at the arrangement of protein and produce. Did I have a favorite? Yes, actually. While most of the dishes are definitely ones I would order again, the gyu no tataki (seared beef with soy, ginger, lime, and coriander, AED78) was a pleasant bite, celebrating the ingredients, as most of the dishes did. In this style of cuisine, there is really nothing to hide behind.
Honestly, I would recommend approaching the meal as we did, with the Daikoku menu, that is, an extensive selection of the dishes, chosen by the chef. The wait staff will work with your likes and dislikes, and any allergies you might have. While the signature cost per person (AED595) might seem high, I honestly think it’s the best approach (and really, is on par with the likes of Hoseki or Nobu). Furthermore, I don’t think most people go to Zuma for a bargain meal…but if you are, their Friday brunches are meant to be epic.
Certainly, Zuma deserves all the accolades it has received over the years. In a landscape of F&B options across the UAE, Zuma holds up in its delivery. Furthermore, given the number of covers the restaurant exceeds on a daily basis, I’m sure there are numerous venues in the city who wish to match the levels at Zuma.
If there are any improvements, perhaps the pricing is a bit high, but for the levels of proteins, I understand the premium costs. Honestly, as mentioned above, go for the Daikyo, and let the chefs choose for you. The service team was very receptive to our tastes, and as one of our the members of our party had a number of allergies, they were happy to clarify, and then continue to check during each course (something I wish more servers would do — not just in Dubai, but globally).
Would I go back? Yes, of course!
Who is Zuma best for? There’s really not an occasion Zuma doesn’t fit the criteria for.
A to Za’atar was a guest of Zuma. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.
Have you been to Zuma? What’s your all-time favorite dish?
As very few restaurants do in Dubai, Zuma holds up for food, service, and atmosphere.