Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Zumu, Hale

Zumu, Hale
Every so often, everything is aligned just perfectly. A sunny day, a ride out to somewhere lovely, and amazing food. Oh and good dogs. A couple of weeks ago, we had a trip over to Hale to sample some Japanese food at Zumu. I have to admit I was rather excited about this review, as it was something a little bit different.

I'm sure it hasn't escaped your attention, but it is absolutely redders at the moment. The last thing I fancy in this weather is really stodgy, beige food, although it has to be noted that I am generally thrilled with this option any other time (caveat being yellow muck cooked straight from the freezer). Joy, happiness! The restaurant was cool and airy, we swiftly had iced drinks in hand, and were perusing a sizeable menu, where everything sounded exciting and delicious. We totally bottled it and asked for recommendations, which I think worked out just beautifully.
Zumu, Hale
For years I was a bit fish-phobic, but I'm much braver these days, and will try pretty much anything (except rabbit and beetroot, I don't eat pets or soil). Signature cocktail at the ready, and filled with bravery, I agreed to try one of the sushi platters as a 'side' whilst safely ordering some of my known favourites. We were talked into trying the Omakase mixed sushi and sashimi, which sounded like the best idea ever. 

Omakase - Chef's selection of mixed sushi and sashimi: The size of it. That right there is a thirty piece platter. The pictures look pretty, but this really is a showcase of colour, texture, and the chef's skill. It was like a fish carnival! I can't think of anywhere else that has served food which looks so fresh, and boasts such elegant simplicity. The sushi is made in full view at the back of the restaurant too. 

My personal highlight was the Unagi Nigiri, which is delicately moulded sushi rice topped with delicately fragranced eel. Who would have thought it hey? Add a bit of that pickled ginger and you'll be delirious. I left the sashimi to Phil, as it turns out there is a limit to my fish tolerance. My attempt at raw salmon looked a little like a toddler eating lemon for the first time, or indeed me drinking beer.
Zumu, Hale
Zumu Special - prawn, avocado, seared salmon, and teriyaki barbecue sauce: This was our original choice which we thought had been replaced with the platter above. Surprise! So that's thirty pieces of mixed sushi and sashimi, then ten more pieces of the Zumu special. Needless to say, much of this was boxed up to take home. The crispy prawn inside these little rolls makes me question everything I know about fish. They were very nice indeed with that sticky teriyaki sauce, which just so happens to be my favourite. 
Zumu, Hale
Pork Gyoza - home-made ravioli dumplings filled with minced pork: Oh the textures! A soft shell packed with firm pork dumpling mix, and pan fried for a crispy edge. All the umami in one soy dipped bite. 
Zumu, Hale
Satsumaimo - lightly seasoned sweet potato with salt and pepper: Oh how we laugh now that we thought we needed to order sides. They were absolutely delicious though.
Zumu, Hale
Fried Rice - fried rice topped with sesame seeds: The perfect vehicle to mop up excess sticky sauce. I will come onto this in just a moment.
Zumu, Hale
Teriyaki beef with kimchi: Behold its shiny stickiness, glistening in the sunlight. I love teriyaki. It's sugary sweet, with a barbecued tang. I could eat this every day. Add some of that beautiful rice to the sauce and I'm in a very happy place indeed.
Zumu, Hale
Kamoniku - pan fried duck breast with cherry ponzu sauce and pak choi: Another beautiful sauce with soft duck breast. Sweetness from the sauce and the duck, with a slight sourness from the cherry pieces.
Zumu, Hale
Dessert platter: This was a rather delightful selection of macarons, mochi and ice creams. Again, I think the scale of this is lost in a photograph. Throughout our entire meal, the couple sat at the side of us appeared to be aghast at the beautiful food we had ordered. They were a little behind us in the ordering process, so had constant food envy until theirs arrived.

Another beautifully presented dish, with real thought into the flavours that made up the selection. We've had mochi (a Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice according to Wikipedia) before, and weren't overly thrilled (understatement of 2018) with its odd texture. We may have used a different word to describe it, albeit inappropriate here. This was so much better! No slime in sight, but be prepared for some epic brain freeze if you bite into them. Highlights were the coconut ice cream and chewy macarons.
Zumu, Hale
I knew this would come in handy one day... my glove box doubles up as a cooler at the flick of a switch. No-one wants car warmed sushi, or a car that smells like bin fish. Even the takeaway boxes were stylish.
Zumu, Hale
What a wonderful experience. Yes, we appeared to have been served all the food in the world, but the lads on front of house seemed genuinely excited to showcase what they had to offer, and helped pick a wonderful selection of their best dishes. Everything we ate was fresh and beautifully presented, and displayed real craftsmanship.

Go here for a special meal in the evening, which will feel like a real treat, or opt for the lunch menu during the day if you're fancying something a bit different to a pub lunch. I really cannot say enough nice things about Zumu; both the food and staff were faultless. 


Disclaimer: I was invited to review Zumu, despite being a self confessed ichthyophobic weirdo. I was under no obligation to say nice things, or indeed eat any fish whatsoever. I tried new things because the menu looked so inviting, which paid off!

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