London's Zuma is reminiscent of Sydney's "Sushi e," in the sense that it is pretentious, over-the-top, and trying very hard to imitate a trendy social scene. Don't even bother trying to walk in on a weekend night; the atmosphere is hectic and loud as a nightclub, and you have to shout over the din just to get seated...or not! Having made the mistake of trying to check it out on a Saturday night, I actually turned around and walked right out, after getting anxiety from dealing with the crowds and chaos. I returned on a Tuesday night, and it was slightly better, though not by much. I stayed long enough to order "what that guy is having" (that guy was a regular patron at the sushi bar who was accustomed to the chef's knowledge of his preferences—torched tuna, salmon and botan ebi nigiri dressed in flower bits, momiji radish, caviar, lotus root chips...).
Sitting at the sushi bar certainly has its advantages; you can be a copycat orderer and then watch your order being made, asking the chef to customize this and that. The nigiri here was pretty splendid, but having eaten lots of good sushi by this point, I was so overindulged and jaded that I was hard to please. Was there such a thing as too much good sushi?
Considering the hip ambience and level of sophistication of the nightclub-restaurant, I was utterly flummoxed when the waiter came to tell me that no photography of the food was allowed (by then I had already taken the verboten shot, but it was to be understood that there would be no more, it was "company rules"). And then it was his turn to look perplexed when I asked for the check. He seemed contrite: was I sure? Wasn't there something else I wanted to order? "Well there's no point if I can't take pictures," I said matter-of-factly. He apologized and assured that he doesn't make the rules. But there were other reasons I wanted to get out of there: I was already full even before the three pieces of nigiri, having just come out of another restaurant (and going to Zuma to try again for a taste), and the place was just too damn loud.
But considering its popularity and the high quality of its fish, I felt Zuma did nonetheless deserve a spot in this segment featuring London's finest.
5 Raphael Street
London SW7 1DL, United Kingdom
020 7584 1010