Sneak Peek at Zuma, the Restaurant at Four Seasons One Dalton Street
The high-energy—and high-end—Japanese izakaya opens this spring inside Boston's newest skyscraper.
Boston’s tallest residential tower has risen above the Back Bay at One Dalton. Home to what will be the city’s second Four Seasons Hotel, as well as private residences, the skyline-altering glass building is also bringing a high-end international hotspot to the neighborhood with Zuma, a contemporary Japanese izakaya. Ahead of a spring 2019 opening for both Zuma and the rest of One Dalton, we took a hard-hat tour to bring you an early look at the Boston version of a restaurant frequented by jet setters like Kim Kardashian West, and David and Victoria Beckham.
The Zuma brand—which debuted in London in 2002—has expanded to international power cities around the world like Hong Kong, Dubai, and Rome. The Boston location will be its fourth in the U.S. after New York, Miami, and Las Vegas, and 12th overall. The restaurant has distinguished itself with upmarket sushi and Japanese small plates, high-energy nightlife, and well-appointed design, and the Boston location will be no different, says Zuma Limited’s communications manager, Louisa Gavin-Cowan. Tokyo-based designer Noriyoshi Muramatsu (Studio Glitt) does Zuma’s architecture and interiors.
While it’s currently a construction site, the second-story restaurant will be accessible from the hotel lobby via a spiral staircase, or Zuma-exclusive elevators. Guests will enter the restaurant into the bar, through large, sliding doors made from monkey pod wood imported from Thailand. The wavy-patterned grain also comprises the large, live-edge bar itself, a floating DJ booth, and other design elements throughout the restaurant.
Josh Kougl, the restaurant’s general manager who just relocated to Boston after two years managing Zuma Miami, describes woven bamboo pillars (made from materials also imported from Thailand) that will illuminate the entryway. The lounge area will seat about 50 people at the bar, a window rail, high-top tables, and a large-format table in the middle of the space.
“Granite is also always used [in all our restaurants],” Gavin-Cowan adds, as she leads the tour through the future bar into what will be Zuma’s sushi lounge. A granite sushi counter will be the first of three open kitchens Zuma Boston guests will see. From free-standing tables and a banquette against the opposite wall, people sitting in the sushi lounge will be able to watch chefs prepping maki rolls, nigiri, and sashimi.
Floor-to-ceiling glass and more monkey pod shelving will showcase the restaurant’s wine selection, just beyond the sushi counter. An opposite wall has been treated with Japanese mud, and other walls await the application of decorative (and also imported) rice paper.
The main dining room is anchored by a robata grill, with nine guest seats along one side. Inside the lively square of the robata kitchen, chefs will man the charcoal flames to cook up signature dishes like gin-dara no saikyo yaki (black cod marinated in Saikyo miso wrapped in hoba leaf); Japanese sweet potato with sesame and teriyaki sauce; and chicken yakitori.
“We can do live cooking—we can pass the food right to the guest, like a chef-tasting,” explains the future restaurant’s head chef, Helmy Saadon, who’s been with Zuma for the past five years at the Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and New York locations.
To the left of the robata grill is the principal kitchen, where Saadon’s team with fry up tempura, fill bowls with miso soup, and more. The Boston location is the first Zuma to have an open, main kitchen, and the team is excited about how it will add to the restaurant’s dynamic.
“Muramatsu, in his design, is rarely partitioning walls and stuff like that to keep the energy flowing. Open kitchens add to that,” Gavin-Cowan says.
A 22-seat area beyond the robata grill will have a sliding partition that can close it off for semi-private dining, but glass windows will always keep it connected to the rest of the action. Plush, colorful chairs and solid wood tables will populate all of the dining areas.
When Zuma debuts, it will begin with nightly bar and dinner service, and quickly expand to offer lunch. Eventually, weekend brunch is in the cards, too. Zuma Miami, in particular, is well-known for a lavish bottomless brunch. The restaurant may also offer exclusive amenities for hotel guests and residents of One Dalton, but those details haven’t been confirmed just yet, says Gavin-Cowan. But being a destination for Boston diners—not just a hotel restaurant—is important to the company, she says.
“Hopefully we’ll add energy and vibrancy, but I don’t think, personally, that we’re necessarily going to bring Boston anything it needs. Boston has an incredible food scene,” she says. Saadon and Kougl chime in to share they’ve enjoyed checking out Ruka and Yvonne’s so far as Boston residents; and Gavin-Cowan gushes about a recent dinner at another Back Bay izakaya, Uni.
“[The strong dining scene is] what drew us to Boston,” she continues. “For any of our locations, we look to open in places our existing customers may travel to, work in, have vacation homes in, whatever the case may be, and Boston is one of those cities. From that aspect it is a good fit. But I think the food scene in Boston is super exciting and we’re really happy to be a part of it.”
Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street (second floor), Back Bay, Boston, zumarestaurant.com.