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Posted at 12:55 PM ET, 10/13/2005

No Moment of Zen

By Erin

After generating buzz for months, Gallery Place's Zengo opened its doors last night. The swanky restaurant sells itself as Asian/Latin fusion, but the menu reads as predominantly Asian, with sushi, dim sum and other similar offerings. While there are empanadas and a few bits of Latin American fare, the most interesting south-of-the-border offerings came from the inspired drinks menu. The raspberry caipirinha and various flavored mojitos (cucumber, pineapple and mango) rocked at prices from $9-$11. In a neighborhood where drinks can average $15, this is a reasonable list, but I still prefer the city's best mojito a few blocks away at Cafe Atlantico.

As for the food, I was underwhelmed. I loved the XO-style edamame, but then again, I'd expect to really enjoy a $6 plate of soy beans. The signature sushi rolls came overloaded with rice so that the fish and crunchy texture were lost. Perhaps if you glom onto the low-carb craze and ask for easy rice, you'll have better success. Other dishes were similarly uninspired, but I will give the kitchen a few weeks to get into the groove before final judgment.

Zengo seems ideal for post-game (or concert) drinks and nibbles. Bring a honey, snag a booth or one of the tables in the upstairs window and splurge on the Kobe beef, which you cook yourself on a hot stone. Chef de Cuisine Alan Yu has a pedigree that includes stints at Citronelle, Teatro Goldoni and Asia Nora, so I'm hoping that it won't be long before diners are experiencing the zen of Zengo.

-- Erin

By Erin  | October 13, 2005; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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Erin, you're officially crazy. Zengo rocks and it's swanky interior is certainly not appropriate for post-game/concert.

Posted by: DV | October 14, 2005 6:36 AM | Report abuse

With all respect, Zengo does not rock. It's pretty, minus the unbeatable view of the Metro escalator, and the drinks are yummy, but it does not rock. It's a decent happy hour spot because you could jam a lot of people onto those couches if necessary. Overall I think Zengo suffers from Chinatown syndrome, which invariably occurs when you manufacture a new neighborhood overnight. Every time you sit in one of these new spaces you think, "Wow, this is so convenient....but it also feels a little made up."

Posted by: CH | October 14, 2005 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Zengo is much better than you give credit. In every dish I had, I tasted both the Asian and the Latin American influences. It was a festival of cultures for my tastebuds and I have no problem forking over the money for food that good.

Posted by: Nate | January 26, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

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