Zuma Bangkok introduces a range of new dishes designed to appeal not only to aficionados of the Japanese izayaka dining style.
By Percy Roxas
Bangkokians are notorious for being fickle-minded, especially when it comes to dining places. With more and more dining places in the city opening by the day — and seemingly each getting better than ever too — who can blame them? There are just so many options available to Bangkok foodies these days.
Not surprisingly Bangkok restaurants are trying to outdo one another in providing what they feel will transform even their most fickle-minded guest into a loyal regular fan.
Even Zuma Restaurant, that award-winning interpretation of the Japanese izakaya style of informal eating and drinking, cannot standstill in the thick of this competition and mindset.
Zuma Restaurant recently introduced some new dishes designed to complement its existing attractions such as the thinly sliced sea bass with yuzu, truffle oil, and salmon roe; spicy beef tenderloin with sesame, red chili, and sweet soy; dynamite spider maki roll; and baby chicken marinated in barley miso.
We were recently invited to sample Zuma’s new dishes — and what a food tasting it turned out to be.
Our group was served several amazing dishes, which we savored with much gusto amid an atmosphere of utter conviviality. Presented in a casual fun way for all members of the group to share, the new dishes included spicy crab miso soup, which is a delightful modern take on the traditional Japanese soup staple, with its exquisite crab taste lingering to the soup’s very last drop. Truly, this miso soup puts other miso soups in the city to shame.
Another one is the pork belly salad, served with cabbage and sesame ponzu dressing, which is really a thin slice of succulent, not-too-fatty pork wrapped around a bunch of crunchy greens balanced by a creamy, limey ponzu dressing. Pork belly dishes like this are now a trend in Bangkok, but few can equal the savory edge this one brings to the table. This, you’ll relish to the last bite.
Then, there is the rock shrimp tempura, which we didn’t try much because we are really trying to shy away from too much fried food. But in fact, this one doesn’t look frighteningly oily at all; probably because — as the chef points out — they use light airy batter to deep-fry them. Indeed, they look absolutely appetizing with their crispy, crunchy appearance; the flavor made more zesty yummy by chili mayo and fresh lime.
But on top of our instant favorites was the beef tartar with crispy nori toast, fresh shiso and garlic chips with Oscietra caviar. It’s another wonderful blending of East-West inspiration in modern cuisine. Served in a small bowl, the well-seasoned raw meat is so flavorful, with an exotic tang that is probably the result of combining wasabi, avocado, and caviar. Shamelessly, I took advantage of the fact that some members of the group don’t eat beef; I kept digging into it until the bowl was empty.
A dish that can definitely set the hungry heart warm is the cold crab somen noodle salad with spicy lemon dressing. Don’t underrate this one. It’s a refreshing, light dish, with a taste that could have come from the delicate notes of a sensual symphony (see its effect on me?). The amazing blend of flavors are revealed after you hold the food in your mouth for a few seconds.
But the one that really made our jaw drop was the barbequed pork rib with spicy cashew nuts and spring onions. In presentation and taste, this is a clear-cut winner. The char-grilled ribs were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside – so tender, in fact, that they automatically fall off the bone as you pick them up. Delicious, melt-in-the-mouth, this one is a real must-try whether you’re a Zuma first-timer or not.
And we haven’t told you about the tiger prawn skewers with sour shiso dip, which I must say, simply tantalizes.
The highlight of our food tasting was the two new desserts: passion fruit and chocolate cake with tonka bean ice cream and jasmine cream, genmai cha biscuit, sake poached apple and jasmine ice cream – each of which makes for a perfect highlight to a perfect fun meal.
Now, like Zuma’s other specialties, these new dishes are designed for sharing. That’s the basic idea of eating at Zuma. The dishes come from three different kitchens; the main kitchen, robata counter, and sushi bar. The combination of the three different cooking styles results in a mixture of tastes, temperatures, and textures that create an exciting and fun dining experience.
Those who have been to Zuma are also all-praise for the use of organic textured materials and traditional textiles that helped the restaruant create the perfect environment in which to enjoy its award-winning cuisine. As Zuma’s founder Chef Rainer Becker said: “Zuma is a modern Japanese restaurant, yet it respects tradition not only in the food but also in the design and approach.”
Indeed, Zuma’s overall energy very much complements the lively cosmopolitan yet traditional character of Bangkok. Conclusion: While some new Bangkok restaurants may come and go with the fleeting trend, we think Zuma most likely will stay. Definitely, it has got what it takes to be a lasting favorite.
The St. Regis Hotel, Rajdamri Road