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261 Madison Ave. (E. 38th & E. 39th Sts.) Send to Phone
Rainer Becker's haute unconventional take on the classic izakaya lives up to its lofty Madison Avenue address.


Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner nightly

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Zuma, New York, NY

Zuma Restaurant Review

: Zuma’s energetic and dramatic bi-level space is characterized by a dining room, bar and sushi counter on the first level and a lounge upstairs. Designer Noriyoshi Muramatsu of Studio Glitt merged natural and manmade elements to create an atmosphere that recalls the similarly varied New York City landscape. High ceilings, granite pillars, stone, various grains of wood and glass enclosures stand juxtaposed with deep-orange leather and warm tones. Rainer Becker's inspired contemporary takes on traditional izakaya fare were a hit with the see-and-be-seen crowd from day one. Three kitchens cover the essential components of Japanese cuisine. The robata grill produces specialties fired with bincho charcoal and cedar, giving selections like the chicken wing skewers a welcome slight sweetness while preserving natural juices. Tender rib-eye is skillfully charred and full of concentrated smoky tastes, and Alaskan king crab with ponzu lime butter is tender and fresh. The sushi kitchen serves options like a nigiri duo of Kobe beef finished with truffles, subtly flavored so as not to detract from the choice cut of beef. Medium fatty tuna presents balanced richness; there’s a roll topped with freshwater eel and filled with pickled burdock and steamed egg; and the black cod marinated in saikyo miso with homemade hajikame is a show-stopper. Tempura items branch out beyond the standard: fried langoustines with sour dashi and red onion are a well-executed example. Desserts marry Asian ingredients with Western decadence: razor-thin-sliced bananas anoint green tea and banana cake complemented by toffee sauce and a scoop of white coconut ice cream on the side. A sixty-selection saké book featuring Japan's leading brands and a wine list with labels from Alsace and Austria along with Champagne and Chablis by the glass work well with the dishes. A business lunch menu offers a range of mains paired with miso soup, Zuma salad and steamed rice. Service is expeditious and seamless.

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