Bangkok Post reviews
Land of the rising Sunday
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: August 17, 2012 at 8:31 am
Lazy brunch at Zuma always lives up to its expectations and beyond
The spacious food-preparation station encircled by a stone buffet counter is where freshly shucked Japanese oysters and a wide selection of Japanese-style salads, appetisers, soups, steamed items, noodles, deep-fried items and grilled items awaited.
As a customer, food writer and an observer, I'm no stranger to Zuma, a modern Japanese restaurant brand established in London but famous in big cities worldwide, including Hong Kong, Istanbul, Dubai and Miami.
However, my first visit to the nine-month-old Zuma Bangkok was a couple of weeks ago for the Sunday brunch and was far beyond my expectations. Ever since the restaurant's debut in the fourth quarter of last year, the most I heard about the place was about the astronomical food bills.
But on Sunday we paid 3,500 baht for a very cosmopolitan and stomach-filling lunch for three _ two adults and a seven-year-old child, which is a very good deal. The meal was great in terms of taste, while the selection of food was plentiful and unequivocally distinctive.
Dubbed izakaya-style baikingu brunch, the Bangkok outlet started a special weekend gastronomic feature last month. As the term izakaya means a traditional Japanese gastro-pub and baikingu loosely means "to eat as much as you want", the Sunday affair offers diners with an all-you-can-eat Japanese meal amidst a lively setting of a modern sake bar.
The buffet is priced 1,280 baht per person (children below the age of 10, accompanied by an adult, eat free). The price includes a variety of buffet items, plus a choice of prepared-to-order main course from the a la carte menu.
The beef tenderloin with sesame red chilli.
One factor we loved most at Zuma was that the abundant buffet lines are set in the dining area making it very convenient for diners make a visit back and forth.
Set length-wise down the hall was an extensive counter exhibiting a colourful array of sushi and sashimi. It was the biggest and most refined collection of all-you-can-eat sushi _ classic and gourmet _ I've ever come across.
On that day there was tempura maki with mentaiko and yuzu mayonnaise; spicy tuna roll with green chilli and wasabi tobiko; and soft shell crab rolls, to name a few. And although there were only three types of sashimi fish: yellowtail, salmon and tuna, the quality was beyond criticism. The yellowtail, in particular, was a top-notch quality comparable to those I've tasted at a fish farm in Japan.
At the west side of the dining room was a large food-preparation station encircled by a U-shape stone counter where freshly shucked Japanese oysters and a wide collection of Japanese-style salads, appetisers, soups, cold soba (buckwheat noodles), agemono (deep-fried breaded items) and yakitori (marinated skewered meat) from the charcoal grill awaited. Food was prepared either at this buffet bar or in the spacious see-through hot kitchen and was constantly filled to the buffet line.
From the menu, we passed the likes of lamb cutlets with hot pepper spices, barley miso-marinated baby chicken and tempura tiger prawn with cold spicy noodles. Instead we settled on rib-eye steak with sauteed mushrooms and wafu sauce, and salmon fillet with ginger teriyaki, and we were very gratified.
Premium dishes are also available at an extra charge. Highly recommended are the miso marinated black cod wrapped in hoba leaf (420 baht), the best-seller at Zuma outlets worldwide; and the lean and super tender beef tenderloin with sesame red chilli and sweet soy (580 baht).
Dessert doesn't come in the all-you-can-eat fashion, but is complimentary in a stunning presentation. Designed for sharing, Zuma's signature dessert platter is served at the end of the meal (yet it's never a crime to return to the savoury course after having the sweets).
Arriving at our table was an extra large and heavy wooden ice bucket where three scoops of homemade ice cream (hazelnut, vanilla yoghurt and raspberry _ all were truly luscious), tofu pudding with poached pear (very unique and memorable), blueberry cheesecake (top-notch quality) and fresh tropical fruits were nicely displayed.
It doesn't matter if the city's weather is cool or not, guests can always enjoy Zuma breezy open-air terrace, set amidst a small rock garden and equipped with a very cosmopolitan cocktail bar smartly tucked a few metres away from the busy Ratchadamri Road.
The restaurant's exceptional outdoor air-conditioning system, which has been the talk of the town ever since the restaurant first opened, allows guests to enjoy a nice al fresco dining without sweat.
Despite its gastro-pub setting, Zuma brunch is designed to indulge both grown-ups and children alike. Not only is the restaurant equipped with a fun-filled kids corner, it also has a special kids menu designed to please young food lovers.
Since no beverages are included in the buffet price, I ordered a Zuma iced tea, a smart concoction of green tea and passion fruit (160 baht), and did not regret how much I paid for it. For those wishing to enjoy the meal with wine and champagne, they cost 700 and 2,300 baht, respectively per bottle.
Yakitori, or marinated meat on skewers, comes straight from a robata (charcoal) grill.
The sushi counter has a colourful array of classic and gourmet sushi and sashimi.