Curating luxury for the discerning traveller

Zela London: New in Town

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Elizabeth Finney discovers ‘Meppon’, the Mediterranean cuisine at Zela with a Japanese twist

I settle down at a black marble table in one corner of the cavernous Zela restaurant, which is softly lit and peppered with deep green palms. Tropical foliage lines the arched windows like salt around the rim of a Margarita glass and the open kitchen hums with activity. The menu is expansive, and I excitedly nibble on edamame as I peruse its pages.

Zela is the home of what’s been dubbed the ‘Meppon’ cuisine, a carefully curated blend of contemporary Mediterranean flavours and traditional Japanese techniques. The realisation of this is a stunning menu of large and small plates, perfect for sharing. “We have worked with Michelin starred chef Ricardo Sanz, Spain’s leading expert in Japanese food, to develop the cuisine,” explains co-founder Abel Matutes. “In the making of Japanese food, the technique is so precise. We admire this level of detail and we are all Spanish so we have a passion for Mediterranean flavours. We think this is something new for London.”

Dining

My companion and I opt for a few small plates to start; delicate scallops with Ibicencan sobrasada perched atop a mounted bed of ice, colourful salmon poke with mango and avocado, and the Ebi, a juicy Spanish red prawn. The flavours are so full, rich and perfectly balanced, I’m completely hooked.

For our main course, we’re advised to try the Wagyu teriyaki 48 hours (a favourite of co-founder Manuel Campos Guallar), a ludicrously succulent slab of beef that falls apart at the lightest touch, melting in the mouth like butter and satisfying my umami craving. We also opt for the deliciously smoky charcoal grilled lobster with yuzu vinagrete, which is served in the shell. I savour every mouthful, each one hitting my palate with a pleasant slap. Every dish provides a whirlwind of textures and flavours, to the extent that it’s impossible to choose a favourite.

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To finish, we tuck into a velvety brownie topped with macadamia nuts and chestnut ice cream alongside the white chocolate cremoso with yuzu and Tahiti vanilla. As if that’s not quite enough, we’re coaxed by our charming waiter into trying Zela’s ‘liquid desserts’ – the Yuzu lemon pie (vodka, limoncello and Yuzu cream) and the tiramisu (vodka, coffee liqeur, espresso and mascarpone cream).

Backing for the restaurant comes from a star-studded line-up including Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Pau Gasol and Enrique Iglesias, among others. The brand already has a large following for the Ibiza flagship restaurant and now, the recently opened Strand hot spot is making a stir. “London has proven itself as the dining capital of the world. The diversity of London´s culinary scene provides an exciting opportunity for us to showcase our take on Japanese meets Spain/Mediterranean cuisine,” says Guallar.

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Matutes adds: “There is lots of greenery inside the restaurant and lots of natural light which we hope will create a sense of the outdoors and remind guests of al fresco dining Ibiza-style, even in winter!” Needless to say, they’ve created something extremely special. The surprisingly perfect blend of cuisine and culture suits London to a T, offerings locals and guests alike a rich taste of the Ibizan lifestyle.

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Zela London, Me London Hotel, 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA, zelalondon.com

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