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ZUMA MIAMI: Extraordinary!
By Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer
A couple of years back we had lived high up in the Viceroy condominium across the Miami River from Epic and saw the goings on at Zuma, the dining outside and the hustle and bustle inside.
We were preoccupied with interviewing and meetings for our book in progress IT HAPPENED IN MIAMI (http://frommerbooks.com/it-happened-in-miami.html) so we never thought of dining at Zuma.
Book published, promotion underway in Miami – we seized the opportunity this winter of 2016 to visit and write about this much heralded and ballyhooed food emporium.
We entered the packed, pounding, surroundings of Zuma. Soaring ceilings, fluttering paper lanterns accentuated the dreamy environment. A whirlwind of staff and diners were into the moment – big time.
Hundreds of hands worked away in the dining room, in the open kitchen and backstage. Hundreds of hungry patrons were seated and waiting to be sated. Our initial thoughts were how a tranquil, exceptional dining experience could be ours amidst the food frenzy.
Our fears were immediately put to rest as not one, not two, but three servers arrived to explain, suggest, even direct us down the right path to fully enjoy the total Zuma experience which was much more than food, but a unique dining adventure.
The trio took the deliberations out of our hands – suggesting the ultimate tasting menu and the ultimate white wine to pair with the food. And once started, the food not in any rush but as we were ready for it - -arrived in dim sung type portions.
And it kept coming and coming: tempura fried grouper, yellowtail sashimi, almost a bucket full of sushi, juicy and delicate filet mignon, and teriyaki salmon. There were doll-sized pieces of lime and chili calamari, crisp, sweet rock shrimp and grouper, seared and salty king crab, flaky, oily black cod marinated in miso, prawn and black cod dumplings in light pasta, seared scallops in pickled plum sauce and more.
We may have gotten the order of the delicious and delectable servings a bit scrambled but one gets the point.
We learned that Zuma specializes in the use of a Robata grill, one that cooks with white special charcoal from Japan. Binchotan burns longer, at higher temperatures and apparently does away with the charred, chemical flavor often found in grilled food.
One of us faced the show in the open kitchen. One of us looked out at the dark night on the Miami River, a show in itself. A mass of workers, sometimes shouting out in Japanese, pridefully prepared the delicacies in the open kitchens; one for sushi and the other for the Robata Grill.
From the superb staff with hostesses smiling and swift, escorting people to tables, to servers at the ready also with smiles, information, to the incredible and tempting variety of food available, to the total package – much more than just a super dining experience, ZUMA gets the gold star.
P.S. We had also announced that the night of our visit was close to our wedding anniversary. We had forgotten that we had divulged this info. The folks at Zuma did not forget. Satisfied, impressed by the meals we had – there was still one more thing.
A dessert for two of all kinds of sorbets and ice cream in a huge pastry on a pedestal arrived with the words: “Happy Anniversary, Frommers.”
There is Nobu and there is Zuma. Forced to choose, we give Zuma the A plus, no contest - it was terrific in every way.
ZUMA 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way Miami, Florida 33131 (located in the Epic Hotel) T +1 305 577 0277 F +1 305 577 0279
Reservations strongly suggested and available on opentable.com. No outside bottles permitted. Full bar, international wine and sake list, indoor and outdoor seating, Valet parking with validation