Monday, January 7, 2008

Review - Zengo

It's easy for a restaurant to get lost in the Chinatown/Penn Quarter area. Between the Jose Andres empire, Zola, and the large collection of big box "casual dining" joints, it's a hostile atmosphere for restaurateurs, and a target rich environment for diners.

One of the restaurants that I've overlooked for the past few years has been Zengo, but after a visit on Saturday night, it's hard to see why.

Zengo is an interesting concept, an Asian-fusion restaurant that sells as much cool as it does fancied up sushi rolls and dim sum.

It should be mentioned that the space is probably one of my favorite in the city. It's open and well managed. This is a great space if you want to stretch out and actually have a conversation. For a big restaurant, I found this surprisingly easy.

This is also a great restaurant if you're eating with someone that you can share massive quantities of food with (in my case, Apples). One of the first things your server will tell you is that they encourage sharing - and man oh man did we take advantage of that.

Starting off with the edamame "xo style", which was your basic steamed edamame with some kind of spicy sauce on it. It's not something I'd get every day, but for an every once and a while kind of thing, it was pretty refreshing.

Along with our beans we got an order of the potstickers, filled with lobster, blue crab and mushrooms, it's hard to go wrong with these. They're light and wonderfully flavorful, and come with a wasabi sauce that you'll be warned no less than three times about.

Accompanying the potstickers and edamame was an order of the calamari, which I found to be fairly pedestrian. They weren't bad, but then again it probably didn't help that I had calamari at Clyde's earlier that day. Apples seemed to enjoy them, so we'll take that as an endorsement.

Finally, we got an "Angry Zengo" roll, which has spicy yellowfin tuna, avocado, sesame-chipotle rouille, and wasabi tobiko. It was agreed that while these fancy rolls usually aren't our thing, this one was particularly good. Again, not one that I'd get on a normal basis, but something I'd get again.

The drink options are also pretty impressive here, with Apple's Yuzu Fresa (Vodka, Strawberries, Lemon) being particularly appealing.

The overall verdict on Zengo was good. My no means did it blow us away, but by no means do we not have a reason to come back.

This is a great restaurant if you want to go out with a large group of friends, or even want to do something new and adventurous for yourself.

It may be easy for other restaurants to get lost in that part of town, but after one try of Zengo, you'll never forget where it is.

So, have you been to Zengo? Let me know what your thoughts are.


recovering overachiever said...

Zengo has always looked more like a club than a restaurant, which is a big turnoff for me. I also hadn't heard anything about the food.

Now I'll have to check it out.

Anonymous said...

The won ton tacos are really darn good, although they do give you a bit much in the way of guacamole to go with it. Then again, when can you ever have too much of avocado-ey goodness?

The "Midnight Karma" drink is pretty wonderful as well, although I always ask for it with vodka (they use vanilla) instead of Gin.

I think their new sushi/margarita "Feng Shui" class would make a great gift. At $50, it's a steal.

Umami DC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Umami DC said...

I have to agree with you. My fiance and I really enjoy going here every now and then. You would be surprised by the service. I think they really do go up and above for you. A couple months ago they took the foie gras off the menu, my server saw that I was slightly disappointed. Without me knowing, he went and talked with the chef. They had some foie gras in the kitchen, so they made a special dish for me. They didn't even charge me for it. If that's not great service... then I don't know what is.

You should try the cucumber mojito. That's my favorite drink there.