If someone was to suggest dining at a Japanese restaurant, typically I'd say no, or politely ask if we could go elsewhere. I'm not the most adventurous with food, and eating Japanese always springs up thoughts of raw fish and more seafood than I care to imagine.
Thankfully, I stepped out of my comfort zone to try out Abu Dhabi's award-winning restaurant, Zuma.
And I'm so glad I did!
My first visit was with Scott and his parents. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we took our friends along a couple of weeks ago so that they could experience it for themselves - and I'd say that Zuma exceeded all expectations.
We chose to eat out on a Thursday evening and were pleased to see that the restaurant was lively. There was definitely a great atmosphere with busy tables and a DJ playing in the background, but not loud enough to kill the conversation.
One of Zuma's biggest draws for me is the menu's sharing concept. I tend to order safe but with a variety of tapas style dishes to pick and choose from, I like that it brings me out of my comfort zone and gets me trying something new. You can opt to have your dishes brought to your table as they are ready or can choose to dine traditionally, with set courses. We chose the former.
We ordered so much food. The Miso Marinated Black Cod is probably the most talked about dish on the menu, and rightly so as it's divine. Words fail me when it comes to describing this dish - you need to try it for yourself. It's melt-in-the-mouth perfection. Speaking of which, the Wagyu Beef Braised Ribs are unlike anything I've tried before. So tender, you'd hardly believe it was meat at all.
Every single dish is thoughtfully prepared and bursting with flavour. As someone who doesn't particularly like fish, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the seafood offerings. Zuma also boasts an interesting drinks menu, with several well thought out cocktails which compliment the food nicely. I'd highly recommend the Raspberry and Passion Fruit Martinis.
The staff were thoughtful and the service was second to none. After hearing that our table hadn't tried Sake before, they were quick to bring us four glasses, ready to try. We also had the pleasure of chatting to the chef who we could see was making the rounds, ensuring his guests were happy and dishing out even more food! He told us we simply must try the Monkfish (he was right - it's incredible!) and rustled up a fresh plate that was swiftly brought to our table for us to feast on.
Because we obviously hadn't had enough food - (read sarcasm) we decided to order dessert. Scott opted for the impressive Fruit and Sorbet Selection whilst I shared the deliciously rich, Chocolate Fondant. Both unmissable and highlights of the dessert menu for me.
I can't praise Zuma enough. For the food, the atmosphere and the impeccable service. It's clear to see why this restaurant is continuing to crop up in the Time Out Abu Dhabi Restaurant Awards. If you're looking for a lively, entertaining evening with outstanding food to boot - you simply must try Zuma!
Zuma Abu Dhabi is located on Al Maryah Island, (Next to Galleria Mall) For reservations call +971 2 401 5900
For more in the Abu Dhabi Eats series, click here.