Boston, MA– Choices for izakaya—the slow eating, slow drinking but trendy Japanese sake pubs so beloved along the East and West coasts—have historically been relatively sparse in the Boston area. And with few exceptions (Ittoku and Sugidama spring to mind) they either offer higher end nouveau takes on traditional dishes or… simply fail. Not out of lack of trying, but simply out of minimal public interest.
International izakaya chain Zuma hopes to both buck and continue that trend when they open inside the Four Seasons Hotel in the Back Bay next week.
The London-based chain (which is apparently unfamiliar with the term ‘contradiction’) describes itself as “authentic but not traditional” and boasts of three kitchens: a main kitchen, a sushi counter and a robata grill. All offering choices of over 20 different dishes, meant to be shared tapas style in a traditional izakaya fashion.
The chain was founded by German chef and restaurateur Rainer Becker in London in 2002, and currently has 11 locations globally, including Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Miami, Dubai, Istanbul, Rome and New York. The Boston location will be its twelfth.
“My time in Japan inspired me in many ways,” Becker (who served as Executive Chef of Toyo’s Park Hyatt) told Entrepreneur magazine in 2018. “And when I returned to London, my goal was to open a Japanese restaurant that would appeal to a more Western palate, whilst still respecting the ingredients and traditions I had learnt.”
“How would I describe Zuma… It’s a contemporary Japanese restaurant that is informal, yet sophisticated, with great food, service, and cocktails… we have guests who dine in our restaurants all over the world, and the spicy beef, for example, should be of equal quality everywhere along with the service. We work incredibly hard as a business to maintain this.”
Zuma has yet to announce their full menu, but a sample menu includes such items as sliced sea bass sashimi with yuzu, truffle and salmon roe, a tempura of black cod wrapped in hoba leaf, Wagyu beef sushi with black truffle and grilled chilean sea bass with green chili and ginger dressing.
The Boston location may be noted as much for its design as its menu, however. Boston magazine reports spiral staircase entrances, woven bamboo pillars, granite counters and walls treated with Japanese mud and rice paper, all courtesy of Tokyo-based designer Noriyoshi Muramatsu.
Which, given the prices Zuma is about to command, may be exactly what they mean about being “authentic but not traditional.”
Zuma is scheduled to open on May 28th on the 2nd floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, located at 1 Dalton St in Boston. Hours will be Monday - Thursday from 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm and Friday - Saturday from 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm. For more information, please visit zumarestaurant.com/locations/boston/
Image via Instagram / Zuma London
To give you an idea of their aesthetic, here is Zuma's London location: