Zuma has established itself as one of the most successful restaurants in London since opening in 2002. A quiet lunch may see 150 – 200 covers, while in the evening the large dining room and bar are jam-packed with customers, whether early or late. The wine list was extensive and had some excellent growers, with mark-ups that are not as high as one might guess: Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir 2009 was at £45 for a wine that you can pick up in the shops for around £14, Vina von Siebenthal Montelig 2005 from Chile at £80 for a wine that you can buy in the shops for £31 and Morgan Double L Pinot Noir 2007 at £105 for a wine that costs £30 to buy retail, though for those with the means and desire to splash out there are rarefied wines such as 1982 Latour at £3,750 for a wine that you can buy retail for around £1,575.
At a recent lunch I had a salad of seared tuna (£12.60), chill, daikon and ponzu sauce: the tuna (yellow-fin tuna from Spain on this occasion; Zuma have several fish suppliers) was lightly seared but the secret here was the very careful balance of the sauce: there was just enough acidity from the ponzu, just the right level of chill bite and enough earthy flavour of the radish to balance the richness of the tuna; this also showed a much more careful touch than a version I had tried on a previous visit (16/20).
Sushi of both eel (£7.80 for two pieces) and nigiri tuna (£8.20) had rice at the correct temperature, and nicely prepared eel (15/20). A salmon (£8.30) with lime shiso soy also showed the same care in flavour balance (15/20). Crispy squid (£7.80) featured non-chewy squid in a light batter, and enough chilli and lime to enliven the dish (15/20). It impresses me that the dishes here are so consistent, despite the scale of the restaurant. Zuma is becoming a global brand now, with Rainer Becker opening branches in Miami, Dubai, Istanbul and Hong Kong, with a Bangkok branch planned for later in 2011.