When you have to book a brunch weeks in advance, there’s a sense of anticipation. Will it be worth the wait? Will it live up to expectations? Does it justify that Dhs600-plus-per-head credit card bill?
We have to wait three weeks to get our table at Zuma, and happily, it ticks all the boxes. Winner of our Brunch of the Year for the second year in a row, the Japanese juggernaut that is Zuma shows no signs of slowing. It’s unfailingly popular and packed-out weekly.
Launched in Knightsbridge, London, in 2002, German-born chef Rainer Becker’s brand has gone from strength to strength, with branches from New York to Miami, Rome to Istanbul.
It’s not the prettiest of locations, set in DIFC with views over the main road, but you’ll hardly notice when your attention is fully focused on what’s on your plate.
We arrive bang on time (when you’re shelling out that much it would be churlish to be late), and take our seat beside the window. If you have the option, choose to sit away from the buffet, to avoid being buffeted (literally) by the crowds.
The concept is simple – buffet starters and desserts, à la carte mains. We make our way over to the large cold buffet, eyes on stalks at the lavish spread of sushi. We load our plates (there’s no room for formalities here) and head back to the table, where a bowl of steaming edamame awaits us.
Some of the labelling could be clearer, but we’re happy enough with the “lucky dip” style plate we tuck into. Chopsticks clicking eagerly, we devour the lot. The sushi is fresh, light and delicious.
A bowl of salt and pepper squid turns up next, which we nibble on while taking a pause. Seasoned brunchers that we are, we know this one’s about pacing and staying the distance. The marathon of brunches, if you will.
We settle upon some robata and tempura shrimp from the hot buffet. The dim sum are a slight blip, but every other mouthful is utterly infallible.
By this point the restaurant has filled up and the room is buzzing. There’s a sense of occasion, as you’d expect, with well-dressed diners having a good time.
Main courses pose a tricky dilemma but we choose the black cod (of course) and the grilled lobster. The cod is buttery and delicious, flaking perfectly, while the lobster is garlicky and tender. They’re a big hit.
If by this point you’ve still got room, there’s a delightful dessert display to try out, with a range of petite sweets.
If you haven’t visited Zuma before, then this is an excellent way to try it. And with acclaimed restaurant Roka due to open in Dubai soon, chef Becker’s reign over this city only looks set to expand further. Book it now, you won’t regret it.
Dhs473 (soft drinks), Dhs625 (house beverages), Dhs688 (bubbly), Dhs236 (kids aged four-12), free (kids under four) plus 10 percent DIFC fee. Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Gate Village 6, DIFC (04 425 5660).
The bottom line
Unfailingly excellent all around.