Friday, February 2, 2007

Zen, Indeed

When it rains, it pours. Actually, today was sunny, but I'm referring to the fact that I've eaten two good meals in 1 24-hour period: rare for me in my current state of relative isolation and poverty.

Neil and I were downtown this morning to run errands (and walk off any remaining hangover), and decided to nosh at Zen, the schwankiest (and newest) addition to Northampton's ample asian food scene. Zen has a gorgeous storefront, with big glass windows that allow passersby to appropriately oggle the food of everyone lucky enough to be eating inside. Ha! Today were were those lucky people. Take that.

Thank goodness for lunch specials-- Zen is normally not cheap, but much more reasonable for a mid-day indulgence. They have a comprehensive lunch menu, with your basic variety of meat'n'noodle'n'sauce combos, along with sushi combinations and a couple bento box options. I opted for the mango curry, a large plate of mango chunks, pineapple, shrimp, chicken, and red and green peppers all drenched in a very appropriately spicy coconut curry sauce. I was impressed with the quantity of shrimp (11, if you care) and the flavor overall; the sauce was a bit oily, but I guess thats to be expected. And it was very tasty oil.

For dessert Neil convinced (yeah, because it took a lot of convincing) me to try the "lotus bun," which came with some sort of fancy description that I do not remember. What I do remember, however, is that it was a pleasantly doughy, crisp-on-the-outside-like-a-Krispy-Kreme type donut, with some kind of sweet paste (lotus paste, mayhaps?) in the middle, served over ice cream that was whatever variation of vanilla come with little crunchy balls of caramelly goodness in it. The "plating," as we say, was fantastic; the ice cream layered under the bun in a big martini-shaped glass, with a dark chocolate pocky sticking out of the center and a huge piece of drizzled-the-hardened caramel sticking out of the side. All covered with whipped cream and a cherry. Interesting, sweet, crunchy, sticky, and very very good.

I like Zen. The food is good, the service is gracious, and the decor is Ikea-hipster with an Asian flare. I'll be back.

41 Main Street
Northampton, MA 10160

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