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ZENGO DC, nestled next to the H Street China Town Metro Station, is a stunning restaurant that one might not expect existed. The bright blocky logo doesn’t quite speak to what lies under the sign and within the door. With a swinging downstairs lounge and an upstairs dining room designed to look quite “zen”, the change of atmosphere from the street to the table is sure to be a welcome surprise.
On October 1, celebrity Chef Richard Sandoval and his culinary team launched their fifth “Test Kitchen” series titled “From Peru to Malaysia”. ZENGO’s “Test Kitchen”, a seasonal culinary event , offers unique fusion foods featuring one Latin country and one Asian country that aren’t typically found on the regular menu.
ZENGO means “Give and Take” in Japanese and restaurant’s name truly speaks to the way one dines at this establishment. Not unlike Dim Sum, eaters are expected (but not obligated) to share their plates with those accompanying them. If you’re looking for a super special treat, then the “Test Kitchen” menu is certainly the culinary choice for you. So what can ZENGO goers find during this season’s “Test Kitchen”? Continue reading for more information:
- ZENGO offers two drink options made by their Peruvian bar tender which include the Shiso-Jito and the Pisco Elevation. Both are flavorful, and pack a punch so you know you’re getting what you paid for. While the Shiso-Jito is rummy and refreshingly simple, the Pisco Elevation is a jumble of complex fruity flavors, and Pisco garnished with apple and lime. Both are, “Keep ‘em coming,” oh-so-good.
- The Spicy Crab Potato “Sushi” made it onto my, “How did I live without having this before,” list the minute it reached my taste buds. Packed full of flavor from the crab, avocado, and purple potato, it was a decadent, rich, melt worthy morsel of food that I wanted to savor for eternity. If dinner service had stopped right then and there, I would have left completely content.
- The second “Test Kitchen” small plate that ZENGO is offering is the Chicken “A La Brasa” Satay. Cooked with a black bean glaze on a metal skewer, and served with Cucumber Rocotoa Salsa and Potatoes Huancaina, I wanted nothing more for this small plate to manifest into an endless supply of sustenance. The chicken, served with the skin on, was nothing short of savory succulence in a single bite.
- Moving onto the large plates, you can expect a little spice, and a little sea. First served was the Arroz Con Mariscos; a yellow curry malay rice cooked with mussels, scallops, calamari, and shrimp. Served in a hot stone bowl that is still cooking when it arrives at your table; diners have the option to let the rice crisp up or dig in immediately.
- The second large plate is the Char Roasted Skate Wing; a gorgeous cut of unseasoned fish served on a charred banana leaf, with a ginger chile marinade, crispy lentil rice cake (that has bacon in it), and a spicy sambal butter sauce. The flavor of the banana char comes through with the first bite of skate wing. But it’s the sambal butter sauce that ties the entire dish together and keeps you praying that the food isn’t actually disappearing before your eyes.
- And finally comes dessert. Even if you’re not typically one who shares well with others, you shouldn’t pass by this sweet opportunity. Nope. Not even if you’re stuffed to the gills. The Toasted Coconut Profiteroles speak to those with the most epic sweet tooth. With this dessert you can expect cream puffs stuffed with coconut ice cream, drizzled with Manjar Blanco, chocolate sauce, and garnished with toasted coconut and sliced strawberries on the side. I have to agree with the waitress who said, “It’s just TOO good for me.” (Don’t you dare think that I didn’t eat a more-than-generous portion of it.)
ZENGO’S “Test Kitchen” menu will be offered through December 31 during regular dinner service hours starting at 5pm. If you’re interested in testing out one of the plates, just look for the “TK” that marks the temporary menu items.
781 7th St., NW
Washington, DC 20001