Situated a short walk from Knightsbridge underground station, Zuma hosts an internationally acclaimed Japanese cuisine menu. We visited their bar and lounge area to sample their new "Champagne GoGo" menu, and we were suitably impressed.
Boasting locations across the world including New York, Dubai and Rome, Zuma is already a very established restaurant. According to their website, it offers "a sophisticated twist on the tradition Japanese izakaya style of informal eating and drinking".
July 11th marked the launch of a new addition to their impressive roster of menus - the "Champagne GoGo" menu. It takes its name for the Japanese word for afternoon - "GoGo". The aim of the menu is to provide the perfect refreshing drinks and treats for a blazing hot summer afternoon, best enjoyed relaxing on Zuma's beautifully secluded terrace. The menu itself features two delicately crafted traditional Japanese ice-cream Mochis; sweet cherry and white chocolate, and fruity guava and mango.
Alongside the Mochis, comes a specially curated cocktail list, consisting of three of the finest summer drinks you'll find in London. Sugi Zai (Ketel One vodka infused cedar wood, lemon juice, cherry brandy, yuzu juice and champagne) is a Japanse classic and comes highly recommended. Next up is Rose Petal Martini, (Crystal Head aurora vodka, ginger and rose petal syrup, lychee puree, lemon juice and champagne). Last but not least comes Hokkaido Blossom, (Tanqueray No. TEN, lilet blanc, plum sake, lemon, orange blossom and champagne). Also available is a fine selection of champagnes, spritzers and other cocktails if you fancy something a little less extravagant.
Upon arrival, myself and my girlfriend were greeted by the very friendly door staff, who took our coats and stored them safely in the cloakroom. Then we were left in the hands of a more than capable member of staff who seated us in a prime location at the busy bar and explained the menu to us in great detail, which we were very grateful for as he advised us which drinks would compliment the mochis best.
After a little contemplation on what to order, I went for the Sugi Zai and my girlfriend ordered the Rose Petal Martini. Whilst waiting for our drinks, we watched the clearly highly skilled bartenders prepare them, which was an experience in itself. Using both contemporary and traditional methods, including cocktail shakers and blowtorches, the bar staff created our cocktails in front of us. Upon being served the drinks, I couldn't fault the presentation if I tried.
My Sugi Zai was presented in front of me in a miniature wooden crate, filled with crushed ice to keep it at the perfect temperature. Also worth a mention, laying on top of the crate was a small piece of lemon skin, with the Zuma logo and "hand crafted" branded onto it. It's the small details like this that really make an impression and just give that extra bit of class.
Next up came the Rose Petal Martini. We were similarly impressed with this. It was served in a traditional, elegant martini glass, with the beautiful added touch of two rose petals floating on top of the drink itself. Needless to say, we were already expecting great things - and we were not disappointed. Both drinks went down extraordinarily well, with no harshness or bitter taste left behind from the alcohol. They were in fact, incredibly refreshing, and would be perfect for a summer afternoon or evening as the menu suggests.
After sipping on our drinks for a few minutes, out came the mochis. When they were first presented in front of us, it's safe to say we were considerably confused about what they actually were, despite how appealing they looked. However before we knew it, lounge manager Alessandro (who I must say was extremely welcoming and made us feel very comfortable) approached us and talked us through what we were about to eat. He explained to us that a mochi was a traditional Japanese rice cake, with the rice pounded thoroughly into a paste. It's then moulded to it's desired shape and presented accordingly.
The frozen treats came in two exquisite flavours, and first up we both tried the sweet cherry and white chocolate. This was undoubtedly one of the best flavour combinations I've tasted in a long time, and considering I'm not much of a fan of sweet things, I was pleasantly surpised. It went down beautifully, melting slowly whilst in my mouth, and the creamy texture was almost heavenly.
We then sampled the fruity mango and guava. A sorbet-esque treat that made the perfect partner for our zesty cocktails. It oozed a powerful punch of tropical flavour as soon as we tasted it, once again melting gently whilst in the mouth. Together, the two mochis made the perfect match for their cocktail counterparts, and once again the presentation was similarly impressive, although by this point we expected no less.
It was safe to say that we were definitely more than impressed with our trip to Zuma, the service and greetings we received from the staff was next to none, and the beverages and mochis were a treat fit for royalty. It would also be a crime if I didn't mention how taken aback I was with the decor of the restaraunt. The bar was meticulously arranged with the vast array of Sake's available for purchase, which was an impressive spectacle in itself.
What To Wear
Choice of outfit when attending a restaurant can often be a struggle. The pressure to dress up smart is always pushing down in some way or another. However we were assured that although Zuma is one of the most acclaimed restaurants in London, it's a relaxed dining experience and there's no pressure to dress formally. A polo shirt and a pair of cropped chinos would be the perfect choice, and we'd advise finishing off the look with a smart casual pair of brogues or similar shoes.
On That Note
If you're looking for a contemporary, stylish and relaxed place to grab a few drinks and relax in London, look no further than Zuma. I could easily spend many an afternoon socialising over a few drinks there, and I'd be certain to feel very welcome thanks to the friendly and easy-going staff. The mochis are also marketed at a very affordable price point, £6 for two definitely won't break the bank, especially for such a luxury treat. The cocktails also start at £13.50 which is perfectly reasonable considering the attention to detail and flawless presentation. I have no doubt I'll be heading back to Zuma soon, it was overall an incredibly enjoyable experience.