Hong Kong’s Stylish Up-market Izakaya



For those who know what a Japanese izakaya is all about, you’ll know that a restaurant in this category will be rather relaxed, enticing guests with the promise of great food and great drinks in an atmosphere that you can’t help but kick back in. The reason being, an izakaya is like the Japanese equivalent of a pub. And just like the recent boom of gastropubs, where pub grub has seen a gourmet revamp, Japan too has begun to merge their finest cuisine with the relaxed ambience of their izakaya hangouts.

One of the most popular of these culinary hybrids is Hong Kong’s Zuma restaurant. The friendly buzz of Zuma’s cool-but-casual dining room tells you this is an izakaya, yet the contemporary, gourmet dishes sizzling in the open kitchens suggests this izakaya has met a sophisticated twist. The dining room is grand and spacious, and the service matches any other fine dining restaurant. Yet even with this lavish semblance, the essence of a leisurely izakaya is not lost. Dishes are designed for swapping and sharing, and they are brought to the table continuously throughout the meal, rather than a stiff template of individual starters and main courses.

And in a city where space is a treat in itself, Zuma’s 10,000 square foot restaurant is quite a sight and it hosts not one, but three dramatic open kitchens: The Main Kitchen, The Sushi Counter and The Robata Counter. Both The Sushi Counter and The Robata Counter invite guests to watch their meals being prepared from freshly selected ingredients, with the expert chefs staging their craft in a dramatic show of precise slicing, lightning-fast chopping and artisanal mastery.

Zuma is perhaps most loved for its robata grill creations, such as the “gyuhire sumibiyaki karami zuke” that sees a spicy and succulent beef tenderloin sprinkled in sesame, then finished with a dash of red chilli and sweet soy. There is also the hokkaido scallops with a delightfully crisp grating of crunchy apple, wasabi and sweet soy, both tangy and exquisitely delicate.
Over to the sushi counter and Head Sushi Chef Kazutoshi Endo tempts with his variety of market fresh sashimi, nigiri and maki sushi. The dynamite spider roll is a firm favourite, with its soft shell crab, chilli mayonnaise, cucumber and wasabi tobiko sauce. For the sheer spectacle, opt for the sashimi omakase, where the chef whips up premium cuts in an oversized, ice-filled dish, cutting each sliver with powerful precision. Chef Kazutoshi revels in the discipline of sushi, following the philosophy that appearance is of equal importance to taste – be prepared to face sushi that looks almost too good to eat.

Keeping in line with the restaurant’s izakaya label, Zuma has recently opened the Zuma bar, separate to the restaurant yet in the same iconic building, The Landmark, Hong Kong’s most prestigious address. Since opening in October, the Zuma Bar has already become the go-to cutting-edge nightspot for fashionistas. It hosts an “interactive” DJ booth in the middle of the bar, complete with a state-of-the-art sound system designed to please the world’s most well-known DJs. And luckily for us, it serves some of the same innovative cocktails that have become so famous in the Zuma restaurant. Tipples like the signature Southeast Asian Cooler that is mixed with Zubrowka, mint, apple juice, cinnamon and passionfruit, means we can now enjoy the Zuma experience after hours and late into the night.


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