The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 16 September 2011

Contemporary Japanese @ Zuma, Hong Kong

What do you eat when you're recovering from a tummy bug? Eat raw fish and sushi, of course! Well, actually that is probably not highly recommended, but that was what I did - less than three days after being literally struck down by a nasty gastro bug. You see, my son had just started kindergarten last week, and he inevitably caught a bug of a classmate. He didn't suffer too badly from it - there was no fever, no complaints of tummy aches, and no symptoms other than an unusual middle-of-night vomit. Unfortunately I eventually caught that bug too, but it hit me much harder and I was bedridden for 40 hours! I am used to being the healthy one that looked after the boys when they got sick that it was very strange being so helpless. Getting sick was awful but it helped me realised three things that I was very thankful for. I was thankful that hubby's workplace is not too far from home and he was home less than 30 minutes after I sent my message "I need you home" to him. I was also very grateful that I am not a single parent nor living on my own, that I have my wonderful hubby to nurse me back to health and look after our son. The third thing I was thankful for was quick recovery despite being struck so hard, and that I don't get hit by a gastro bug more often than every few years (the last time hubby had to take a day off work to look after me was more than 3 years ago when the boy was still in my belly).

I was happy that we didn't cancel our lunch plans at Zuma although hubby was understandably concerned. I was well and truly on the road to full recovery, and I didn't want to spoil plans that had been made a week previously. Plus I had a lot of eating to catch up on! I had heard good things about Zuma, first from a Japanese friend who told me about the restaurant after I'd lamented to her about a crap sushi experience (she also knows the owner of Zuma, and she'd warned that the food is quite pricey). Then I heard hubby raved about a superb black cod he had at dinner out with his colleagues one time, but he'd only remembered the restaurant's name starts with a "Z". He confirmed the name "Zuma" when I suggested it. Hubby was eager to bring me to Zuma so that I could eat this wonderful black cod too.

At the beginning of the lunch open, before the lunch crowd began milling in:

Zuma has a chic and sleek space over two floors, with a spiral staircase that joins the restaurant to the bar/lounge upstairs. There's even outdoor space to enjoy alfresco dining when the weather is nice enough. The menu offers a modern and sophisticated take on the casual izakaya-style food. Service was professional and friendly, and our waitress was very helpful in giving suggestions on what we could order for our boy who has multiple food allergies (let's just say Japanese cuisine is not very suitable for his allergies). I was impressed by how thick the menu was, but I also didn't want to plough through the pages to pick what I wanted to eat. Zuma conveniently offers two set lunch options, the Ebisu Lunch (HK$290) and the Hotei Lunch (HK$480) where we could choose an appetiser, sushi and a main dish from a few choices. We got one of each set lunch courses - hubby the Hotei set and the Ebisu set for myself. Dishes were placed in the middle for sharing.

California roll, for the almost-3 boy. I usually don't like California rolls (because it's not really sushi), but this was heavenly! This had real crabmeat, not those yuck imitation crab sticks:

If anyone could make sushi eating messy, it would be this toddler! That disposable bib held only half the mess, and I felt bad for whoever had to clean the table (and the area around it) after we left:

Hotei Lunch Set

Hubby selected the following dishes for his meal.

Gyu no taru taru (spicy beef tartare with wasabi sauce and organic egg yolk) - yum! I love the different textures in this dish, and the flavours all combine very well. The satsumaimo (sweet potato) crisps were a nice touch:

Chirashi donburi (chef's selection of sashimi over sushi rice) - the cutest chirashi don I have ever laid my eyes on. The sashimi had been briefly seared which added a hint of charred flavour to the dish:

Taraba gani to soba sarada (cold buckwheat noodles with king crab) - very flavourful, and I enjoyed the fried strands of sweet potato on top. Hubby said it was nice, but not "wow":

Ebisu Lunch Set

The following dishes were my choices for my set.

Ao ringo to kaiso sarada miso fumi (seaweed salad with apple and white miso dressing) - bright and colourful salad that tasted extra-refreshing due to the fresh yuzu flavour in the dressing:

Tokusen nigirizushi to maki (4 nigiri selection with maki roll) - well-made and fresh. I love sushi!

Gindara Saikyo-yaki (miso-marinated black cod wrapped in hoba [Japanese magnolia] leaf), an additional HK$180 on top of the cost of the Ebisu lunch. Hubby was right! This was amazing:

Moist and tender fish in a gorgeous miso sauce. I don't know if words can fully describe how good this hunk of black cod was!


Amedei hot chocolate cake, cocoa crisp, white chocolate, raspberry, caramel and vanilla 'wagon wheel'. Raspberry and chocolate makes a great combination, but I'm still not sure about the white chocolate 'wagon wheel':

When I saw the choc cake had a molten centre, I exclaimed to hubby that I had to take a photo of it. The poor guy had to stop eating the dessert to comply. Doesn't that look tantalising:

Sake-poached Japanese peach, roasted brown rice cracker, yogurt cream and mandarin sorbet. The mandarin sorbet was encased in a sugary sphere that fizzed and popped in your mouth much like sherbet. The boy really wanted to try this, and we had to be careful not to give him any of the boozy peach that was beneath the bed of ice. A light dessert that was quite fun to eat:

I like the food at Zuma. Everything was of good quality, very well presented and - most important of all - delicious. I surprised both hubby and myself by eating very well. The seafood was fresh, which is of utmost importance at a restaurant serving sushi and sashimi, and I am happy to say that I didn't suffer from my decision to eat raw fish so soon after getting sick with gastro. Zuma has their famous brunch buffet on Sundays, and I really would like to come back here for that.

5-6/F, The Landmark
15 Queen's Road
Central, Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 3657 6388


  1. Thanks to you, I will definitely try Zuma soon as I have been craving Japanese.. So far the best black miso cod I had was at Nobu NYC. I love California rolls with real crabmeat as I love crab. Luckily for me back in NYC, it is the norm and not the exception in lots of sushi restaurants. Everything looks yummy, can't wait to try Zuma as I have not had Japanese since coming to HK.

    Thanks for asking about my stomach pain, luckily it went away. Glad to hear you recovered as well from your bug.

  2. This all looks incredible! Is the owner Japanese?

  3. Hi Kelly - I'm only happy to help! Another good Japanese restaurant to try is Inagiku at the Four Seasons. It's cheaper if you go at lunch-time :)

    Hi Shari - I believe the owner is indeed Japanese, but only because my Japanese friend said she knows the owner, and most Jap expats don't socialise outside the Japanese circle.

  4. Holy cow... that is some major gourmet Japanese food! The chirashi looks so yummy :)