For those who have lived in Hong Kong for some time, Zuma likely needs no introduction. It’s one of the city’s most popular Japanese restaurants and its bar is on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars. The restaurant has three main areas: the upper-floor bar, the outdoor terrace and the main dining room. All three are spacious, a good thing since Zuma is often full even on a weeknight. It’s part of a chain with 11 locations worldwide including London, New York and Dubai.
The food has a well-deserved reputation for being fresh and modern and their weekend brunches are especially popular. I had to book weeks in advance the last time I went for brunch, but it was worth it. Each season, Zuma also puts together a pairing menu. For something special this fall, take a look at their new autumn sake-pairing menu ($2,180 per person).
In Japanese cuisine, eating seasonally is common. Naturally, this concept also applies to drinking sake. The rice wine is usually brewed during the winter. After it’s pasteurised, it’s aged in a tank and stored in a cool place during the summer months; this mellows and balances it out. Then it’s served in the autumn. Hiya-oroshi is a special type of single-pasteurised sake (most sake is pasteurised twice) that is released in the fall. Zuma’s head sommelier, Juwan Kim, personally selected the restaurant’s hiya-oroshi sake during visits to Japanese breweries.
There are 10 courses on the menu, with a sake pairing for every two courses. The only exceptions are the spicy crab soup and the dessert platter at the end.
- Shima aji (striped horse mackerel) sashimi salad with green apple granita
- Oysters with ponzu and chilli daikon
Paired with Fukucho “kosumosu” ginjo hiya-oroshi
- Chef’s premium sushi and sashimi selection
- Akamutsu (black-throat sea perch) with sudachi (Japanese citrus fruit) and fresh wasabi
Paired with Tsukinokatsura junmai ginjo hiya-oroshi
- Chilean sea bass with green-chilli-ginger dressing
- Hokkaido scallops, umeboshi (salted plum) butter and mentaiko (cod roe)
Paired with Gokyo junmai hiya-oroshi
- Niigata snow-aged Wagyu sirloin (F1 grade)
- Maitake mushrooms and sudachi (Japanese citrus fruit)
Paired with Gozenshu 9 “black” bodaimoto junmai hiya-droshi
- Spicy crab soup with fresh yuzu and mushrooms
- Deluxe dessert platter
The oysters, sashimi and sushi served were all incredibly fresh. If I had to choose a favourite dish, it would be the shima aji sashimi salad with green apple granita. Delicate rolls of shima aji, fresh herbs, rice pops and a slightly tangy dressing made for a wonderful flavour bomb. The sake chosen helped to enhance and lengthen the flavours in the mouth.
Of the cooked dishes, the Hokkaido scallop course was another one that went very well with the sake pairing. The umeboshi butter, mentaiko and scallop combination was fatty, salty and slightly sweet, which paired well with the sharper, greener-tasting sake.
The only pairing that didn’t seem to work was the Chilean sea bass with green ginger dressing. On their own, both the fish and the sake were lovely. The dressing on the sea bass was bold and varied, with green chilli, onion, radish and coriander – very delicious. But the sake was also quite strong, almost thick, and seemed to wash off the flavour rather than enhance it.
Zuma’s new autumn tasting menu delivers on flavour, education and fun. It would be a nice option for a ”treat yourself“ evening. Sake fans and newcomers alike will enjoy discovering new sake choices and seeing how this rice wine can complement and enhance the flavours of food. The menu itself is wonderful, showcasing the best of the restaurant’s contemporary Japanese vibe.
5/F, LANDMARK, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, 3657 6388
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author‘s.