Catering for the sophisticated

by Isabella Lee

Marc Bratland, managing director, Zuma
Photo: Edde Ngan

Upmarket Japanese restaurant recruiting for right persons to excel

There's much more to creating a cuisine paradise than simply serving high quality food and beverages. Other important ingredients of a highly enjoyable dining experience include the ambience of the surroundings, uniqueness of the menu, the seating arrangements and particularly the service efficiency, all of which contribute to the success of a restaurant. An award-winning restaurant and bar concept from London that incorporates all these desirable elements will arrive in Hong Kong in spring 2007.

"Zuma is a contemporary Japanese restaurant that takes its inspiration from the Japanese 'Izakaya', an informal restaurant and bar. Zuma is an evolution of this concept, being more sophisticated while keeping with the same vibrant atmosphere" says Marc Bratland, the restaurant's managing director. "The essential difference between the Izakaya style and a formal restaurant is that there is no prescribed etiquette for ordering from the menu, with no differentiation between starters and main courses."

Core clientele

The restaurant is the first branch outside the UK and will occupy 10,000 square feet over two floors in a state-of-the-art new development at the Landmark Atrium in the heart of Central. It aims to attract its core clientele from among guests staying in surrounding five-star hotels and from the high-profile shoppers who regularly visit the prestigious shops in the area, plus senior executives with offices in the central business district.

"Zuma London is adjacent to the Mandarin Oriental which regularly hosts many well-heeled tourists. Zuma Hong Kong is also next to the Landmark Mandarin Oriental and therefore we expect to provide our dining experience to many of the hotel's guests," says Mr Bratland.

The interior design of the restaurant will be a key attraction. Noriyoshi Muramatsu from the Tokyo design firm Super Potato, is designing the restaurant. His profound understanding of contemporary Japanese design with Western influences is renowned in Asia; while his clean and minimal style incorporates such natural materials as stone, wood, glass and Iron, with complimentary colours and lighting being added to create a unique and elegant environment.

The main dining area will seat 70 at tables. Additionally, the sushi counter will accommodate 11 and the Robata grill counter 12. The show kitchen will allow diners to view chefs preparing their respective dishes in both the sushi and Robata counters.

Besides two private dining rooms seating up to 12 and eight guests independently, the restaurant will feature an outdoor terrace seating up to 36 amidst a natural garden setting.

The lounge and bar will offer an array of seating arrangements. The bar area will accommodate 26 at the counter and tables. The lounge area is a combination of comfortable sofa eating areas accommodating 30 and a semi-private eating area for 24. They should prove ideal venues for lunch and afternoon gatherings with friends and colleagues taking a break form shopping or business.

In the early evenings the mood will pick up to the beat of music, providing an ideal setting for cocktails with colleagues following a busy day at work, or perhaps a pre-dinner glass of champagne or an aperitif.

Mr Bratland points out, "The lounge will continue until late in the evening with our featured live DJs on selected nights ensuring the enjoyment of the latest house beats."

Out of the ordinary

Zuma is renowned for its high quality food and individuality, says Mr Bratland. "The style is authentic but not traditional. The emphasis will be on quality ingredients and flavour and presented in a way that is meant to be shared. It's all about eating and enjoying the moment with friends and family. This is an important part of the culture here in Hong Kong," he says. The Robata counters will offer the finest selection of seasonal vegetables, poultry, meats and seafood prepared over charcoal and served with signature sauces and marinades. The sushi bar, on the other hand will have a wide choice of fresh fish for innovative sushi rolls, sashimi and nigiri sushi.

The beverage lists have been created with Japanese ingredients and culture in mind. "In Zuma, guests can find sake from different regions of Japan. There are varieties of premium sake by the glass selected by our very own sake Kikizakeshi," Mr Bratland remarks. "Our two-thousand-bottle wine cellar featuring wineries from around the world will include a minimum of 10 vintage wines to be served by the glass at appropriate temperatures and poured in front of our guests. Along with our signature cocktails, Japanese and herbal teas or other drinks, the beverage lists provide selections to complement our dishes with a range of flavours and textures from the oiliness of fresh fish to the flame grill of the Robata."

Right ingredients

Zuma is now recruiting in preparation for its opening. It has already established its core management in Hong Kong and is currently seeking talented individuals to provide the ultimate experience to its guests.

"With so many Japanese restaurants already operating in Hong Kong, we are confident that there is a supply of professional skills available locally," says Mr Bratland. "However, we are looking for genuine people who will bring in expertise and qualities. Since we are preparing for developments in Hong Kong and Macau as well as other parts of the world, we will always be on the search for talented professionals who will enjoy working with our concept. More importantly, Zuma is a workplace encouraging culinary creativity and offering advancement. It is the right place for the right persons to excel both personally and professionally."

Ultimate experience

  • Seeking experienced restaurant staff
  • Ongoing search for professionals
  • Culinary creativity encouraged
  • Right place for the right persons

Taken from Career Times 26 January 2007
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