“The nuances of traditional Japanese food are often more subtle than we appreciate in the West.” Rainer Becker
In our expat world, Thursday night is Friday night, Friday is Sunday (Brunch day for expats, religious day for the locals) and Sunday is Monday (yes, school and work starts on a Sunday and I still find that odd even after five years!). Saturday as far as I can tell is just Saturday! Anyway the point of this rambling on about days of the week is that Thursday night here marks the start of the weekend and is usually the big night out and we recently went for drinks at Zuma, one of Abu Dhabi’s newest nightspots.
Zuma, popular in Dubai for years (voted 77th best restaurant in the world) has made its way down the E11 highway from our shiny neighbour to the capital and is part of the new dining and entertainment options available at Sowwah Square on Al Maryah Island (which has been called the Manhattan of Abu Dhabi, I’m sure that’s a bit of a stretch but I like the sentiment).
Zuma here in the capital is the latest addition to the renowned and iconic contemporary Japanese restaurant chain, the invention of chef Rainer Becker. The Zuma empire now has six venues in cities across three continents around the globe in London, Hong Kong, Miami, Istanbul and Bangkok and courts high-end clientele that enjoy good food and drinks. It’s definitely a place for the more trendy and it’s certainly not a cheap night out but then it was never going to be!
Huge carved ice-cube in the whiskey
Zuma in Abu Dhabi, tucked in the corner next to the Rosewood Hotel, is entered via a cube shaped building with the bar and restaurant located underground down a couple of flights of illuminated stairs. The interior is minimalist with lots of glass, polished wood walls and tables and exposed stone in the dimly lit bar and the dining area offers diners amazing views out across Al Maryah Island. The large feature bar in the centre of the lounge area is well stocked and well staffed. The staff were unpretentious (not always the case in these ‘cool’ places), the service was faultless and the music was just the perfect level as not to drown out conversation. It seems by the amount of people who continued to stream in as the night progressed, Zuma is the new place to be or is that ‘be seen’ in Abu Dhabi.
Mandarin Cosmo and Gin based cocktail
The Japanese inspired drinks menu featured Mandarin Cosmos that were off the scale delicious and lots of variants of gin and sake based concoctions were available along with Japanese beers and an extensive wine list from the all glass wine cellar. Bar snacks of delicious Edamame beans and skewers were consumed hungrily, a perfect accompaniment to the flowing beverages.
Delicious salty Edamame Beans, healthy too!
I will definitely be adding this exquisite venue to my list as a place to enjoy a cocktail or two with visitors on the tourist trail (visitors beware, bring lots of dirhams). I plan to revisit soon to try out the restaurant for dinner because it would be rude not to enjoy the whole experience. Thanks Zuma, it was a blast!
Zuma Abu Dhabi
Location: Sowwah Square, Al Maryah Island
Telephone: 02 401 5900
All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.