May 25, 2008

Zuma Zuma Zuma

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We wanted something light last night as the weather was turning warm, so we ended up trying out Zuma. I had eaten lunch once and was less than impressed, and certainly did not think it merited the 99th position in the Top 100 (see Right off the bat, we could see that the waitstaff was really poorly trained. They only had two beers on their list - an Asahi and a Kirin. When I asked "Which Kirin is it?" the waitress did not know. She offered to bring the bottle to me so I could identify it myself. Later on during the ordering process, the various staff also clearly did not remember their menu items, and had to rely on us pointing it out so they would know what we were talking about. We also had to ask them not to bring ALL the dishes to us at the same time, because there was clearly no room on the table to fit everything. These people really don't have a clue on how to provide service... We started with the Zuma green salad - a great combination of mixed greens with deep-fried tofu cubes, ripe cherry tomatoes, beet root and a few petals of chrysanthemum. The dressing tasted like yuzu ponzu which was very enjoyable. Then there was the veggie roll, a California roll-type maki with carrot, green asparagus, cucumber and avocado wrapped with shiso and sprinkled with black and white sesame on the outside. Dabbed lightly in soy sauce, the fragrance of the sesame, shiso and green asparagus worked well together to create a refreshing taste in the mouth. Cheap (OK relatively...) but delicious. We also enjoyed the suzuki with yuzu sauce and ikura. The thin slices of seabass sashimi was dripped with the yuzu sauce we love. There were also two slices of eggplant topped with salmon roe. Note that you should not combine the ikura with the suzuki as the yuzu sauce will completely overpower te ikura. I was a bit surprised by the Zuma nigiri zushi. For HKD 300 you get all of 5 pieces... Granted, you have some upscale ingredients, but it was still a shock when it arrived. I had the wagyu with (caviar?), which I thought was OK but nothing to write home about. The eel was only so-so. The other three pieces were a sad-looking octopus, a tasty-looking scallop topped with yuzu sauce, and a minced toro with truffle sauce. Not likely to order this dish again. Finally we had grilled eggplant with miso and chilli. Grilled eggplant has always been a favorite dish, but this was interesting. Ignoring the sprinkle of yellow chrysanthemum petals, the combination of miso and chilli reminded me of Chinese spicy bean paste (豆瓣酱). Kinda detracted from the experience a bit. Having had low expectations, and because we did not order anything premium or outrageously expensive, our experience was actually alright. I know that many people scream about how overpriced this place is, and I would have to agree. If I wanted to splurge for a Japanese meal, Zuma is not a place I would choose. But for a light meal with some salad and greens involved, I thought it was worth returning to.

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