The restaurant presents refined izakaya-style dining in a beautiful paradise setting
If there’s one thing different cultures around the world can agree on, it’s that there’s nothing better than a good alcoholic drink paired with bar bites. The Brits have their pubs, and the Spanish their tapas bars. Few, however, do it quite like the izakayas of Japan.
Usually casual, hole-in-the-wall establishments that serve simple fare to be washed down with lots of beer, sake, or plum wine, izakayas are a must-go for any visitor looking for a grittier, authentic experience of Japan.
But thanks to Rainer Becker and Arjun Waney, food lovers around the world no longer have to travel to experience izakayas. The duo are the masterminds behind Zuma, the highly successful contemporary Japanese concept that has introduced the world to a more refined version of an izakaya. Already present in 20 locations worldwide, Zuma has just added its latest, and perhaps most glamorous outpost yet at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.
Surrounded by an expanse of turquoise, the new restaurant is a stunning overwater structure with a timber and granite façade that maximises play of light. The dramatic entrance leads into a vibrant dining space where an island bar, Japanese charcoal grill (or robata), and sushi counter take centrestage.
On the menu are the specialty dishes that have made Zuma’s name, including thinly sliced Seabass with Yuzu, Truffle Oil and Salmon Roe; Roasted Lobster with Shisho Ponzu Butter; and Spicy Beef Tenderloin with Sesame, Red Chilli and Sweet Soy. For a touch of indulgence, there’s a caviar selection featuring oscietra caviar and wagyu steak.
No izakaya experience is complete without drinks, and Zuma more than obliges. In addition to Japanese whiskeys, premium sakes and umeshu, the bar also serves Zuma’s signature beverages such as the Lychee Rose Petal Martini, Chilli and Passion Fruit Margarita, and Zuma Colada.
The opening of Zuma adds to an already extensive collection of 11 distinctive culinary experiences at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. The restaurant joins such gastronomic superstars as Terra, the romantic treetop venue that serves bespoke menus; Li Long, the resort’s Chinese restaurant; The Ledge by Dave Pynt—the same Dave Pynt of Michelin-starred Burnt Ends fame—which specialises in Australian barbecue; and Glow, where healthy garden-to-table dishes take centrestage.