Chef Reif Othman on Feeding London's Party People

Richard Brown

8 November 2018

Recently appointed executive chef of nightclub-restaurant Sumosan Twiga, the award-winning Zuma alumnus on keeping London’s party crowd happy

"Our emphasis is always on the gourmet offering, but it’s in the brand’s DNA to bring the party"

8 November 2018 | Richard Brown

Last year was a big year for Reif Othman. After launching the 12-seater, celebrity-hangout Play at Dubai’s H Hotel in 2016, the Singaporean super-cook was named the Middle East’s most powerful chef by Caterer magazine, while Time Out Dubai bestowed Play with its Restaurant of the Year award.

Having previously secured Zuma Dubai a spot on San Pellegrino’s World’s 100 Best Restaurants for a record-breaking four years in a row, Othman became executive chef of Sumosan Twiga, the east-meets-west gourmet-party venue from hospitality powerhouse Flavio Briatore, this summer.

What makes Sumosan Twiga so unique?
We are a lifestyle venue. We have a winning combination of restaurant, lounge and club. We serve the best quality classic Italian cuisine alongside some of the finest Japanese in London.

How can we expect the restaurant to change under your leadership?
I will be watching the restaurant grow organically. I have gradually introduced a number of new dishes, including Wagyu beef and raw fish tacos, plus the incredible Japanese Hot Pots with a choice of Wagyu beef or Chilean seabass. I believe the new dishes have elevated the presentation, offering something surprising and exciting for the senses. Expect some adventurous additions in the near future.

What’s the key to culinary longevity?
Innovation. Having something new on the menu always excites our guests, whether they are regulars or first timers. Consistency is key; in a city as gastronomically rich as London, there is no room for standards to slip.

How does a ‘lifestyle’ restaurant successfully balance food with entertainment?
This is the ‘magic dust’ at Sumosan Twiga. The restaurant is designed in such a way as to breed informality. The environment allows diners to feel relaxed and enjoy the music while eating incredible food. Our emphasis is always on the gourmet offering, but it’s in the brand’s DNA to bring the party. By 11pm we turn up the volume, the energy shifts and guests can stay with us late into the night.

What makes a good restaurant playlist?
One that hits the sweet spots of many tastes. On the second floor at Sumosan Twiga we play house music – vocal to deep – and on the first floor it’s more current – a bit lighter.

Which dishes do you recommend every diner try?
From the Italian side, the Tagliolini with red shrimps and tomato sauce and the burrata with tomatoes are amazing. From the Japanese menu, the lobster salad and the tuna tartare, then there are the Billionaire Maki Rolls with Wagyu beef and truffle.

How does the London dining scene differ from other cities?
London is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, where many cultures live and work together. Like New York, diners are adventurous and always looking for the next big thing.