Nobu vs Zuma: Which one has the best style and taste? Japanese Cuisine wars in London

As a working gal, one of my favourite things to do is to dine outside preferably at places which combine taste with style.  Maybe, at this point I should confess that paying for good food is easier than cooking it at home for me.  And we are not all born to be Heston Blumenthals or Jamie Olivers, right? …and I am not a food critic nor I intend to be one. However,  I have been seriously investing into food hunting for the past 10 years so at least I can proudly say I am a food lover.

I love all kinds of Asian food: Chinese, Vietnamese. Japanese, Thai…These are all great food for my taste. I have been going in an out of Asian food joints ranging from Michelin starred ones to local finds.  My personal favourite is perhaps dumplings, but we will come to that in another episode. Today I would like to compare Zuma to Nobu or Nobu to Zuma if I may. My criteria are two folds: Taste and style. I think I have been to almost all Nobus except Dubai including the chicest of all: Nobu Bahamas.  For the sake of a fair comparison, I will just be focusing on Nobu London and Zuma London now.

I think both of them are world class and they serve exquisite Japanese dishes. However, our question is if you had just one night in the city and you wanted to have great Japanese food and watch trendiest Londoners in a stylish setting where you’d want to pick?

Food: In Both Nobu and Zuma you’d have tantalising food. There is no risk here. Nobu’s signature dish is still its famous cod after all these years if you’d ask me and the last time I went to Zuma I just fell in love with the Chilean Sea bass. Perfect combinations of aroma and fresh food. The presentation is also very good.  When it comes to sushi, they are again very much alike and mesmerizingly good. For tempuras I think I’d pick Zuma  over Nobu especially on the prawn tempura the serving size is bigger and also it was just like a cloud puff melting in your mouth the last time I went there. Not overcooked, not raw, perfectly golden and crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. Nobu version is great too but since we are looking for small differences here I think Zuma wins over in tempuras.

Cocktails: Both offer a good selection and you can find a great variety of fresh fruit mixes if you like.

In Zuma one thing you’d find extra (and this is not something to be overlooked by the way is) its long and stylish robata grill. You can sit at robata bar and you can enjoy your food while you watch the chefs show their magic. Of course there is also a sushi bar but you’d find this one also in Nobu so robata is something special for Zuma London.

Above: Zuma chefs doing wonders at the grill..

In terms of style I think I’ll be crueler, I was actually disappointed with Nobu London even before checking out Zuma London. The interiors are really plain and after the original New York branches’ unique style one always waits more from a new branch. Having seen the marvellous design of Nobu Bahamas I also know they could have pulled that properly. Bahamas branch is perhaps one of the most stylish Japanese restaurants I have ever seen. One good thing about the Nobu London is that it overlooks at Hyde park, so theoretically if you go there on a Sunday afternoon you could enjoy the scenery.

Zuma on the other hand is stylish, chick and the crowd is really cool. Women wear their best sparkling dresses, shoes and gorgeous handbags and men seem to be somewhat good at matching their partners’ style. The bar is the perfect place for people watching with great cocktails and good tunes.

Above: A random shot from Zuma’s main saloon…

As you’d expect till know, my verdict is that if you’d only have one night out and you’d want to have it all go to Zuma London. Go there and enjoy great food in style. You won’t regret your choice. That being said, I am still hopeful that Nobu Berkeley (London) can change my perception in terms of London Nobu’s atmosphere. Though I am told Nobu London’s food is better than Berkeley…