Brook says to get racing to this Japanese restaurant’s affordable and delicious set lunch.
It’s been six months since world-renowned Zuma opened at St. Regis hotel, marking the restaurant’s sixth international location. And in those six months, the contemporary Japanese venue has received numerous rave reviews. Many high-end dining venues, although they may remain go-to options to impress a dinner companion, often lose steam and quickly fail to stay current. But not Zuma.
Zuma recently launched their set lunch menu for those on the go. I’ll be honest, I had never been to Zuma before, although I wanted to. Any place that describes itself as ‘contemporary’, ‘modern’ or ‘fusion-inspired’ tends to give pause, if not invite confusion — who knows what those terms even mean any more? With the hefty bill you’ll get at an upscale restaurant like Zuma, it wasn’t a risk I really wanted to take. However, Zuma’s new set lunch made things less chancy. In fact it’s downright affordable! Upscale contemporary Japanese cuisine and affordable? I’m in.
Ready. Set. Go!
I started off with a simple seaweed salad (which had a little bit of a kick to it) and miso soup, a staple at any Japanese restaurant, contemporary or not. ‘Do you want red or white miso soup?’ I didn’t even know there was a red miso soup. I was then told that Zuma uses seven different types of miso in their dishes, and there are many more types of miso in Japan. White miso soup is the most common, the type you find in Japanese restaurants everywhere, so I opted for something different. Red miso soup doesn’t taste dramatically different, but it is a little stronger, I couldn’t gulp it down like I usually do, and it is a little more earthy. And yes, it’s red. It’s the kind of soup I think I’d appreciate even more if I were sick; the heartiness is delicious and makes it seem more filling.
Next came the main dish. I opted for a dish off the Zuma donburi (dishes served on steamed rice) menu. Gyu niku no sumibiyaki (Australian beef sirloin with wafu sauce and crispy garlic) was everything I’d hope a restaurant like Zuma would offer but had resigned myself to thinking could never be. The dish was huge. It was — gasp — filling! At places like Zuma I expect good food (check) in small portions (gladly not the case). For once a restaurant delightfully did not meet my expectations. The strips of beef were tender and juicy, perfect. I highly recommend the dish, although if you’re watching your carb intake, watch out; the donburi dishes tend to be heavy on the rice. After eating all the strips of sirloin, I still had half a bowl of rice left. I couldn’t finish it!
Gyu niku no sumibiyaki (Australian beef sirloin with wafu sauce and crispy garlic)
But, of course, I still had dessert anyway. I was recommended the ‘special chocolate cake’, which was so special that it wasn’t even on the menu. The cake is really a chocolate lava cake, the type you find at almost every western restaurant in Bangkok. Typically a lava cake is a pretty safe bet as far as desserts go, but it’s so common that it fails to impress any more. Zuma’s lava cake is different. Yes, it’s still a cake that gushes chocolate ‘lava’, but it’s more than mere (sometimes bitter) chocolate. Zuma’s chocolate cake sends a flood of rich, creamy chocolate onto your plate, infused with pralines and caramel sauce (something I’ve never had in other lava cakes). Pair that with a healthy dose of vanilla ice cream and you’ve got yourself a flavourful masterpiece. It may not be Japanese, but that’s beside the point; it’s awesome. If you want something more Japanese-inspired, don’t worry, the dessert menu has that too.
A soup, salad, hearty rice dish and dessert for as little as THB 380. That’s more food and less baht than I’ve spent on lunch sets at a particular French restaurant I like. The Zuma set lunch has my vote. And since it’s for those on the go, office workers and the like, it was also fast. Everything came at lightning speed, and had I been in a rush (as most people on the clock are), I could have finished the meal and been out of there in thirty minutes.
The best part is, the set lunch menu is available at weekends too, so take the family. I don’t know about the weekend, but on the Tuesday I visited, the restaurant was nearly empty. No reservation needed (the opposite is true for dinner). But don’t mistake this as a sign of bad food because it is anything but that. And the service was excellent too. I’d get going before Zuma at lunch time really starts to fill up!
Zuma's set lunch is available from noon to 3pm daily.
For reservations call +66 2 252 4707 or email email@example.com.
G/F St. Regis Hotel
159/99 Ratchadamari Road
14/06/2012 - 10:50