Bar Tab: Zuma, Dubai

There’s a lot to love about Dubai: the commitment to steel and glass, the reliable warmth and incredible levels of service. There’s a lot to dislike too: the obsession with steel and glass, the oppressive heat from May to September and the obsequious levels of service. Fortunately, Zuma sneaks into the first category. The dark two-storey venue – lively izakaya downstairs; dark and smoke-filled (yes, really) lounge upstairs is everything that Dubai does well and is mocked for in one neat package. The entrance, to the left of an underground car park, is inauspicious but handy if you don’t want to walk more than six paces from your Uber, and there will be plenty of staff on hand to greet you. In fact, if there’s one phrase that sums up the whole Zuma experience it would be ‘plenty of staff’. Upstairs, the bar is the place to be, on this Thursday night at the start of a long weekend it is three deep and rowdy. To the right, you’ll want to ignore the private dining room inhabited by 12 white middle-aged businessmen and head straight to your table. Dinner is fabulous, from the sushi to the king crab salad, grilled octopus and giant king prawn with yuzu pepper – but we’re here for the drinks. With a menu split into ‘aperitifs with style’ (is there any other kind?), ‘classics with a twist’ (of course) and ‘icons of Dubai’ there’s naturally a significant Asian slant, and the Japanese Paloma – adding yuzu and hibiscus cordial to the specs – is a standout.  Across the table, the chili and passion fruit Margarita is so good my guest orders two and proceeds to message me several times that night: “Those Margs were the best I’ve had”; “Seriously the best”; “That Marg was to die for”. Three times in 32 minutes. I checked. So, there’s your tip. Try the Marg. (Building 3 – 06 Al Mustaqbal St, Dubai, @zumadubai). Read more Bar Tabs here.