The ME London Hotel is already very snazzy what with its rooftop bar, steakhouse and now ZELA – a restaurant serving a blend of Japanese cuisine with Mediterranean influences. ZELA also have a restaurant in Ibiza and are backed by a host of international superstars from the world of sport and entertainment so expectations are high.
First things first, the room is stunning so Instagram and reality are very much at one here. Inside you will find lush greenery throughout and a striking cocktail bar which runs along the whole length of ZELA. Finishing touches take influence from Spain with intricate floor tiling, bamboo furniture and palm print walls. By day, large arched windows give plenty of natural light. By night, the atmosphere is more lively with DJs and entertainment all week with live music and performance.
The bar also embodies all things Japanese and Mediterranean with an original cocktail list. Combinations are clever and refreshing. We tried the Margarita Sichimi, a classic Margarita with a clever twist of grapefruit and a wicked chipotle chilli syrup. For something lighter, try a Sakura with passion fruit, cranberry, lime and garnished with some mango jam.
ZELA’s menu is enticing with a focus on fish and seafood. Dishes are definitely made for sharing. To whet the appetite, a poke with salmon, avocado, mango and crispy rice was light and fresh. We also tried some gyoza filled with prawns before delving into the rest of the menu.
From the raw bar, we went Japanese and ordered a selection of sushi. The talk of the table was the quail egg nigiri. A perfectly cooked quail egg sat atop sushi rice with lashings of nutty white truffle. For a textural experience, soft shell crab maki rolls were well balanced with the crunch of crab combining well with avocado and masago (fish roe).
For mains, we went meaty with a grilled rib eye steak with soy garlic butter. The simplicity of this dish made flavours of tender beef shine through. A 48-hour braised Wagyu teriyaki was in fact so tender and delicate that we were able to eat it with chopsticks. A fried rice with mushrooms, truffle and egg (break the egg and mix it into the rice) went well with our meaty main courses.
If you’re an early bird, there is a new, great value 3 course lunch and pre theatre menu which features many signature dishes from the main menu including salmon poke and Wagyu teriyaki. A soft drinks and coffee are also included but you may as well indulge in the very happy hour (currently between 5pm-730pm) where select cocktails, including a Japanese Negroni, are £6.
A lot has been said about Zela but what impressed us most was the authenticity of the concept which uses familiar Japanese dishes and injects a dash of Mediterranean flair. This is somewhere we would go back to for drinks or a dinner before some retail therapy or enjoying one of the many West End shows close by.
By Mark Captain