The Goods: The Magic City gets its latest dose of highbrow dining via the Epic Hotel’s British import Zuma. Tokyo-trained German chef Rainer Becker opened the first Zuma in London in 2002 and has followed it with outposts in Hong Kong, Istanbul and Dubai – the downtown Miami location marks Zuma’s US debut. Expect local and visiting celebs (Becker’s following includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé) and a robust menu of specialty cocktails and modernized Japanese cuisine from the restaurant's three distinct culinary areas – the principal kitchen, the robata grill (open fire BBQ) and the sushi bar.
Ambience: Earth toned granite floors and walls, Japanese rice paper panels and natural Indonesian wood create a chic, Zen vibe. A spacious bar and lounge area encourage lingering and people watching while riverfront outdoor seating offers a quieter experience.
The Grub: Contemporary Japanese cuisine served Izakaya style – meaning dishes are brought to the table continuously throughout the meal (rather than in a traditional appetizer, entrée, dessert sequence). House specialties include lobster and chilled soba noodles salad, pork belly robata skewers, rock shrimp with lime and chile mayonnaise, miso marinated black cod, sweet potato robata skewers and the pirikara maguro maki (spicy tuna roll with green chili sauce and tobiko). Specialty cocktails and a globe-trotting wine list are paired with a sake list featuring over 40 varieties, including Becker’s Biwa no Choju variety, which is brewed exclusively for Zuma from the waters of Lake Biwa in the Shiga prefecture
The Verdict: Specialty cocktails, sleek décor and a robust, crowd-pleasing menu guarantee Zuma a top spot on Miami’s must-visit list.