What does it take to become one of the hottest restaurants in Boston? Style. Sophistication. Sushi. And sensational service. Located on the second floor of the new Four Seasons Hotel at One Dalton Street, Zuma is a high-end, highly enticing Japanese eatery where the city’s movers and shakers come to eat, drink, see, and be seen, as General Manager Josh Kougl explains.
Josh Kougl: “Zuma is a contemporary Japanese restaurant inspired by the izakaya style of dining. Izakaya is an informal style of dining where there’s a free and steady flow of food to the table with no particular sequence. We often get confused as a sushi restaurant, where izakaya is much more than sushi. It encompasses everything from the main kitchen, the sushi counter, and most importantly our robata kitchen as well.”
Here’s a little background on Zuma by the numbers. There have twelve international locations, this one being the fourth in the US. There are three separate, fully open kitchens. And the menu features over 75 items, ranging from soups and snacks, to steaks and sushi, to tempura and temping desserts. And it’s all served up inside one of Boston’s most beautiful dining rooms, full of natural wood, granite, and glass.
Josh Kougl: “The experience at Zuma, if I had to sum it up in one word, is vibrant. You’re going to walk into a very energetic bar and lounge area, great bar program, high energy bartenders, great cocktail program. The first kitchen you’ll approach would be our sushi counter. We have all of our chefs there composing all of our sashimi, nigiri, and all of our maki. The sushi platters themselves, A, start with the quality and the freshness of the ingredients. The display on all of our sushi platters is pretty magnificent. The chefs work very hard, pay a lot of attention to the details. What you’re going to find is a big mountain of crushed ice layered with plenty of sashimi, a little bit of nigiri, and some maki. The spicy yellowtail maki has yellow tail and avocado on the inside. It’s topped with a wasabi mayo and sliced serrano pepper. So, the Wagyu Gunkan is a gunkan style sushi, gunkan meaning battleship in Japanese. But it’s a Wagyu tartare with truffle oil, topped with caviar and shaved truffle, great texture and great flavor.”
For those not looking for sushi, there are some upscale Japanese style snacks. Instead of a traditional lobster roll, Zuma serves a Lobster Miso Bun with Siberian caviar on squid ink brioche. And their signature Rock Shrimp which are delicately fried and impossible to resist.
Josh Kougl: “Rock shrimp tempura is one of our classic dishes. It’s served with crumbled wasabi peas on top and a side of chili tofu dipping sauce. You’re going to get a savory flavor from the rock shrimp on the inside. But our tempura batter, gluten free by the way, is going to have the added little crunch on the outside. And you get a little bit of a spice from the chili tofu, which is a very rich and creamy texture. It’s amazing.”
Other amazing meals here include the light and slightly sweet miso marinated black cod served with a wasabi citrus dipping sauce. And the tender marinated Koji chicken cooked on Zuma’s state of the art Robata grill.
Josh Kougl: “Robata literally means fireside cooking in Japanese. It is cooked over a specialty charcoal, binchotan, that burns anywhere from 800 to 1000 degrees. So, we cook a lot of our items, our bigger steaks, some of our seafood, vegetables, and smaller skewered items. With the binchotan burning at 800 to a thousand degrees, what that does do is allow us to sear the outside of a dish completely and contain all those molecules and flavor inside the dish, keeping it nice, flavorful and juicy.”
So, you can get a surf and turf platter hot off the robata grill, boasting a ridiculously tender 24 ounce bone-in ribeye basted in truffle soy, sweet Alaskan king crab legs drizzled with a ponzu lime butter sauce, and Japanese style street corn that’s skewered and grilled. Or, just go straight for the Robata Lobster.
Josh Kougl: “This is a one and a half pound roasted lobster. It’s a full lobster cut in half. The lobster of meat is actually cleaned out and grilled by the chef and then baked in a shiso ponzu butter sauce. It’s amazing. You’re going to get a lot of the savory from the butter sauce on top, but it really compliments the flavor and texture of the lobster.”
And since Zuma is all about extragance and indulgence, the Deluxe Dessert platter is the ultimate way to end your meal, overloaded with an ever-changing assortment of cakes, sorbets, ice creams, and exotic fruits.
Josh Kougl: “Presentation on this dish, again, is very mind blowing. You’re going to have a lot of hype with it. You’re going to have a lot of pizzazz, a lot of extra goodies on the platter, but it’s definitely not your traditional dessert or dessert platter that you’re going to see anywhere else.”
And if you’re not afraid to splurge, why would you go anywhere else?
Josh Kougl: “We want our customers to experience everything. Zuma is a about having a great experience from the moment you call or make your reservation online. Our staff is very welcoming, but we want everybody to feel very comfortable in our establishment and feel like they’ve been taken care of and guided through an exceptional dining experience.”