Taking Friday brunch up a few notches - Zuma, Abu Dhabi

I remember clearly my thoughts the last time I reviewed Zuma's brunch. I said to a friend: 'Zuma knows it is Zuma, so it does not have to try anything new or innovate in any way. It's brunch will always be a success. People love Zuma.' But I also remember feeling underwhelmed. It was a year ago, actually. Having said that, it still made my top brunches round up because, well, it was good.

These were my thoughts when i made my way to Zuma to try their brunch a a week and a bit ago. Now perhaps more than any time, it did not need to do anything to wow guests because of all restaurants in the city, they seem to have managed the downturn in Abu Dhabi better than most. At the back of my mind, nonetheless, I was looking for a wow element. 

After my experience, these are my thoughts:

Service

Along with Tamba, Zuma sets the standard for service. Zuma does not skimp on getting the right people on the floor, whether they are from Eastern Europe or South Africa. Their training standards are well known and when you interact with staff, you can feel this. Their staff naturally interact with guests, making entrances and exits at the right time, while showing their knowledge about their field. They are able to express themselves, a reflection of the management style of Zuma. 






The Bar is always alive at Zuma


For the last few years now, the bar experience at a brunch is a must. They continue to make use of their incredible bar and that is where a welcome drink or two are served. One or two other brunches have followed suit, recognising the fact that not every person wants to sit down at 12.30 and start eating immediately. People want to mingle at a  brunch before they start eating. The bar is a perfect meeting place. Finally, it is also the ideal post-brunch experience with a natural movement from the table seating area to the bar effortless.



Engagement

This is the big change at Zuma's brunch. When you have a buffet and a set menu for the main course, there are no surprises. That wow feeling when you walk into Zuma disappears once you have had a walk around - this is true of any brunch. However, by adding a table service of certain items, the wow feeling is brought back. It also allows deeper engagement with their knowledgeable staff. 



Ribeye and flatfish are all done table side - when you watch a waiter carve up a piece of ribeye table side at a brunch, it is something to observe, especially when it was least expected. Both dishes are quite filling but make sure you leave space for the main course. Then, there is a caviar service too which again adds that surprise element to the brunch. Nice.





Dishes you must have

It is not easy to find a bad dish at a Zuma brunch. While it is a Japanese brunch, the dishes are quite diverse, meaning if you prefer more mainstream dishes, you will still have a great time. Did you know they have Beef wellington for example? Beef and chicken skewers as well as the aforementioned ribeye and a choice of main dishes like Roasted Angus beef skirt, Roasted Boston lobster and a Spicy Beef tenderloin. For those here for a Japanese experience, you are spoiled for choice, with some great main course options from Jumbo tiger prawn with yuzu, Chilli miso marinated wagyu beef ribs and of course, the Miso marinated black cod. My guest and I shared the cod and lobster - both a must have. 





Champagne - it makes a difference


Zuma has also added a new champagne to its already impressive drinks packages. Right now in Abu Dhabi, the top 4 brunch champagnes are Louis Roederer Brut NV, Billecart-Salmon Brut NV, Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé and Bollinger Brut Special Cuveé - Zuma serves the latter, the only brunch to do so in Abu Dhabi. Brunch is about differentiating yourself from the rest and your choice of bubbly says a lot about you. This is served in addition to the fine selection of cocktails, sake  and a  Prosecco that is better than some champagnes I have had. Finally,  a choice of so-called non alcoholic cleansers ensure that those who do not drink alcohol, still get that brunch feeling with these specially crafted and presented drinks. 







Verdict


Zuma is always Zuma. That is true, but this season they have really upped their game and have come up with a brunch that is one of the three brunches you must try in Abu Dhabi. If you have always liked Zuma's brunch, I am sure you will love it even more. Love. It combines the best of the buffet and table service concept and uses one of its major strengths, it staff, to take the brunch experience up a notch. Its beverage service is now also entrenched, along with two other brunches, as the best in the city. Finally, the fact that Zuma is one of a handful of brunches that do not do 2 for 1 deals is a testament to its popularity, something that will easily be maintained thanks to its refreshing touches to its brunch. 

Essentials

Zuma
Sowwah Square,
Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi

+971 2 401 5900

Packages

kitsu @ 345 per person
including non alcoholic beverages and zuma cleansers
kowaku @ 445 per person
including prosecco, sommelier's selection of wines/beer
kyasha @ 555 per person
incl Bollinger Champagne, sake tasters, selection of wines/beer 



Brandon Stoltenkamp


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