So here's the thing about Zuma...you're not fooling me.
I recognize that you are a name brand in other parts of the world. I understand that your restaurant in London was fairly well reviewed (by me at least). I know that you couldn't afford your swanky digs in midtown New York City without tremendous financial backing, and that you were assuming that the predilection New Yorkers have for good food would be dwarfed only by the desire Manhattanites have to be part of the next big thing. But most of all, I know that you likely thought that you could just roll into town and rope in any sheep. After all, who would ever question a famous restaurant debuting in a famous city?
You might not know me (although you should), but I'm 'The Sushi Legend'. I run a website dedicated to sushi, and I spend way too much time reviewing raw fish. Sushi is usually composed of raw fish, but hold that thought since it will come in handy later.
I recently visited your restaurant in midtown, and was impressed by how much effort went into designing the place. The open concept reminded me of a darkened version of Walgreens - was that the look you were going for? It actually took me a while to see it though, because your host kept my party waiting for 20 minutes, reasonable given that we had made our reservation only a month before.
Given how recently you opened, I was impressed how old the salmon in my handroll tasted. The stringiness was unfortunately masked by the random cucumber that was buried at the bottom. Thanks for that little surprise! I'm not precisely sure the fish was still raw, but the good news was the heaviness of the rice did a great job to distract me. The futomaki (pictured right) was surprisingly well put together, but it's a shame it only cost a shade under $20. I would have rather paid more.
I enjoyed the atmosphere, particularly since watching obnoxious and loud people drinking right near my table is sort of my thing. It seemed like a trendy crowd, but I imagine that you will eventually hit your target market: tourists and people who don't know any better. Good luck with that!
For now, I will stick to not recommending your restaurant to my website dedicated to sushi (aka something that usually contains raw fish).