Sunday, December 23, 2012

DC Spotlight: Zengo

Today's post is long overdue. 

Zengo, located in the heart of Chinatown, serves Latin-Asian fusion cusine, and offers (upon request) a separate vegetarian menu.  Zengo is the first of three Richard Sandoval restaurants in DC (check out my previous posts about Masa 14 and El Centro).

Zengo is not only my favorite Richard Sandoval restaurant, but it is one of my favorite restaurants in all of DC.  In my view, it has all the elements of a first-class restaurant: elegant and festive atmosphere, delicious food and drinks, and, most importantly, outstanding service, which includes thoughtful accommodation of various dietary restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free). 

But the service surpasses even that standard; it is one of few restaurants in DC that actually knows the importance of making regular customers feel special, often treating them to complimentary dishes and desserts that they know the customers have previously enjoyed.  On top of that, Zengo won't break the bank, as it is one of the more reasonably priced upscale restaurants in the area.

But back to the vegetarian menu, which is what I value most about Zengo.  The selections are not simply meat-free versions of items found on the regular menu.  Instead, they have been carefully thought out to ensure that vegetarians are getting the same experience as other diners.  Each dish is packed with the right amount of innovation, flavor, and protein. 

In addition, Zengo isn't afraid to experiment with new dishes, often adding and subtracting items from the menu depending on the season or in response to customer feedback.  The dishes pictured below are, for the most, staples that generally do not change.  Despite modest variations in the offerings, Zengo remains consistent in that everything they serve is delicious.  After many years of eating there, I can honestly say that I have never had a bad meal.  The pictures do not do the food justice.

Edamame (grilled and salted)

Vegetarian sushi roll (asparagus-scallion tempura, avocado, aioli, and soy paper)

Shitake arepas (shitake mushrooms, cornmeal cake, avocado, green onion,
and jalapeno - vegan version without cream)

Vegetable fried rice (with asparagus, egg, corn, mushroom, green onion, cilantro, and bean sprouts)

Crispy tofu (with bok choy, ginger, cilantro, sesame-chile sauce, bean sprouts, green onion, and aioli)

TIP:  Zengo is also open for lunch and brunch, and is an excellent place to celebrate special occasions.  The restaurant often offers special prix fixe menus for holidays that are very reasonably priced and include vegetarian options.  In addition, the restaurant has a spectacular private event space that is separated from the main dining room by a glass wall, so it does not feel isolated. 

Zengo's private event space

Zengo on Urbanspoon