Zuma's opening party, in June of this year, typified Hong Kong at its worst. A laughably messianic invitation (issued as a slab of metal bearing the restaurant's name, but with no address or other details enclosed) summoned hundreds of what one would only describe in kindness as "VIPs" to the Landmark commercial complex to toast the new branch of Rainer Becker's Knightsbridge restaurant in a suffocating, five-deep-at-the-bar ordeal. How lovely, then, to return to Zuma some months later and realize that it is not a claustrophobic hellhole of anemic heirs and glassy-eyed "It" girls: it is, in fact, a highly inviting venue with plenty of light and elbow room, serving spectacularly fresh and creative dishes that typify modern, Japanese-influenced cuisine at its best.
In a part of the world where every fraction of space is obscenely costed, Zuma's 10,000 square feet (about 950 square meters) overlooking Queen's Road Central constitute the most impressive statement it might ever make. But if that sort of display leaves you unmoved, your eye will be gratified by the low-key interior design, in entirely natural tones, created by Studio Glitt's Noriyoshi Muramatsu and the ubiquitous Super Potato. Amid a smart-casual setting of stone, wood and glass, you'll find the expansive main dining room, an upstairs bar and a terrace for "outdoor dining" (read: smoking). But the focus, quite rightly, is on the food, not decor. An unstructured menu Zuma dispenses with the usual distinctions between starters and mains will have you marveling and grunting over things like baby chicken marinated in barley miso and roasted on cedar wood, or fresh cold tofu with grated wasabi and other condiments. End on a dessert like jasmine-poached white peach for a sustained rush of serotonin. Zuma is Hong Kong's restaurant of the moment, but ultimately bound for a far less ephemeral glory than that. Call (852) 3657 6388.
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