Zuma Abu Dhabi turns 10 with indulgent tasting menu to celebrate decadent decade

The restaurant is serving up 14 courses of old favourites and fresh flavours for Dh600

Grilled scallops with a Japanese herb sauce and fresh black truffle is part of Zuma Abu Dhabi's 10th anniversary tasting menu. Photo: Zuma
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Few cities in the world have changed as much in 10 years as Abu Dhabi. And Zuma, which opened on Al Maryah Island in 2014, has witnessed it all.

Those in the know may have noticed this outpost has slipped off Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants list (although Zuma Dubai remains), but judging by the packed tables and lively atmosphere, you would never guess this was anything other than one of Abu Dhabi’s finest venues.

Ask any foodie in the capital and they will tell you Zuma is a firm favourite for special occasions. However, there’s no need to wait for a birthday or holiday to celebrate here, as is evident even on the bustling weekday I visited – a true feat in this city of plentiful options.

From Monday until June 15, Zuma Abu Dhabi is offering an extensive tasting menu to celebrate all it has served up in the past decade while introducing a sprinkle of fresh flavours. Coming up to the Japanese venue’s 10-year anniversary, The National drops in to test the limited-time menu.

Where to sit and what to expect

In true izakaya style, despite being Michelin-listed, the venue is not fine dining as you might expect. Rather, it is a relaxed affair, with families with small children enjoying dinner alongside diners from around the world, dressed up or dressed down.

Written using the three kanji symbols for stay, drink and place, the izakaya embodies the unflappable coolness of Zuma, where you can tuck in to tailored gourmet food or an informal drink at the bar and enjoy eclectic music throughout the night – from Afrobeats to melodic house.

With views over the water or up-close-and-personal at the sushi counter, seating options can be chosen depending on the vibe you’re after. My dining partner and I decide to look out on the bay, slightly out of the hustle and bustle of the bar area, where we can hear each other and savour each bite.

The menu

Moving away from some of the Zuma staples, the anniversary tasting menu features 14 courses with a mix of old and new offerings. Brimming with meat and seafood dishes, the menu can also be adapted to cater for any dietary requirement, allergy or intolerance upon request.

Curated by Polish head chef Jacek Bzdzikot, the meal starts with a humble offering of steaming edamame with rock salt, and moves on through a rich crab soup, spicy miso and soybeans; seared tuna, chilli daikon and ponzu sauce; yellowtail with green chilli relish, ponzu and pickled garlic; and Wagyu tatki with ponzu.

One of the standout courses is the sushi and maki platter, comprising a selection of 10 bite-sized portions in a truly Instagrammable set-up, including usual suspects salmon and scallops, as well as a cameo by the rarer sea urchin. A highlight is the wasabi, which comes in the form of a chunk of raw root – two years in the making – hand-grated at the table using a small wooden board coated in quietly impressive shark skin.

Just when you think you could not possibly eat another bite, out come a 250g black Angus rib-eye and Japanese sweetcorn with shiso butter.

The Angus hybrid is braised with garlic butter and served with sansho pepper sauce and home-made pickles, while the corn on the cob comes as a welcome addition to a meat-heavy meal, with citrus notes in the butter that create the king of all diary accompaniments.

The 14th and final course, after a much-needed 10-minute pause in proceedings, is a towering dessert platter on ice. Mainly consisting of fresh fruit, the finale is a refreshing conclusion to our culinary journey. Featuring the signature chocolate pudding, the tower of treats also includes the debut of a four-layered spicy pineapple pot of goodness, perfectly balancing sweet, sour, tangy and fresh flavours.

Price point

The 10th anniversary set menu is available until June 15 and priced at Dh595, while dishes introduced for the occasion can be ordered a la carte as well.

Zuma is open daily from noon-3.30pm, then 7pm-midnight. The 14-course tasting menu is available for lunch and dinner, and is for a minimum of two guests. Reservations can be made by calling 02 401 5900.

This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant

Updated: May 02, 2024, 8:24 AM