Zuma, London’s award-winning restaurant, late last month officially opened its highly anticipated location in Midtown Manhattan, the ninth outpost in its international collection.
Founded by acclaimed chef Rainer Becker, Zuma offers contemporary Japanese dining that is authentic, but not traditional, prepared using the highest quality ingredients and characterized by bold flavors and simple but exquisite presentation. Inspired by the many years Becker spent in Tokyo, immersed in the food culture there, Zuma presents informal izakaya-style dining and gracious service in an elegant space.
“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.”
Zuma’s menu is informed by Becker’s reverence for the discipline, passion, heritage and innovation that characterizes Japanese cuisine. The restaurant features a main kitchen, sushi counter, and a robata grill that produces dishes designed to be shared. Executive Chef Carlos Jorge leads Zuma New York’s kitchen in collaboration with Group Executive Chef Bjoern Weissgerber and Zuma’s Group Head Sushi Chef, Kazutoshi Endo. The menu offers signature dishes including tsubu-miso gake hinadori no oven taki – barley miso chicken oven roasted over cedar wood, rib eye no daikon ponzu fumi – rib eye steak with wafu sauce and garlic chips, kinoko no kama meshi – rice hot pot with wild mushrooms and Japanese vegetables and suzuki no sashimi – seabass sashimi with yuzu and salmon roe.
In addition to the award-winning signature cocktails crafted by Bar Manager Theo Von Ungern-Sternberg and wines selected by Head Sommelier John Loats, 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.
Since the 2002 opening of Zuma’s flagship London outpost, Becker, has worked with Tokyo-based designer, Noriyoshi Muramatsu, founder of Studio Glitt, to design all nine international locations. Zuma’s global aesthetic is inspired by the four elements of earth, fire, water and air, incorporating natural materials and textures but reflecting New York’s vibrant, metropolitan energy and diverse cultures. Muramatsu’s richly detailed design is both a visual and tactile experience. Raw industrial materials and finishes include mill-scale iron and rough-hewn granite boulders that are a nod to the bedrock upon which the city is built. These elements are juxtaposed with reclaimed monkeypod wood, clear, crisp glass, rich leather, distressed iron and steel.
The one hundred seat main dining room includes a sushi bar that accommodates eight and guests may also experience the action seating at the robata grill. Slatted steel booths called koyas, translated as “little pods” in Japanese, create an intimate dining experience for groups of four people. A row of illuminated openwork lanterns in the windows lining Madison Avenue recall the buildings that define Manhattan’s iconic skyline.
To ascend to the second level bar and lounge areas, guests may take either the glass elevator or the suspended steel staircase to the second floor. The focal point of the room is an illuminated resin island bar flanked by leather banquettes against an accent wall of stacked wine bottles. The lounge provides a dramatic view of diners below and is furnished with luxurious burgundy and cherry-colored leather and suede armchairs and sofas and glass and monkeypod wood tables. 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.
Zuma was co-founded by Rainer Becker and Arjun Waney in 2002. Zuma London, the first restaurant to open, remains the brand’s homestead. All of Zuma’s management and chefs are extensively trained in London before working in Zuma’s international locations. Zuma has successfully launched several locations across the world including Hong Kong (2007), Dubai (2008), Istanbul (2008), Miami (2010), Bangkok (2011), Datca Peninsula (2013), and Abu Dhabi (2014). Zuma’s characteristic culinary concept features a main kitchen, sushi counter, and robata grill offering modern, sophisticated Japanese cuisine.
Zuma has garnered international acclaim from media including ‘Restaurant of the Year’ in the UK’s Tatler Restaurant Awards. Conde Nast Traveler’s Hot Tables Awards awarded Zuma Hong Kong ‘Most Exciting New Restaurant,’ and Time Out Istanbul awarded Zuma Istanbul ‘Best New Restaurant 2009.’ Both Zuma London and Hong Kong made the Top 100 listing of The S. Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants, as voted for by an international panel of over 800 critics, chefs and restaurateurs. Chef Rainer Becker has also been recognized within the industry, with awards including Chef of the Year nods from both Harper’s Bazaar and Moet.