My best friend phoned me a couple of weeks ago to say she had a Groupon for $50 at Zengo and asked if I would join. I said yes for three reasons: 1) I have been working an insane amount lately; 2) This would be my first evening outing with her in several months; and 3) I have always had mixed feelings about the restaurant—never sure if I love it or hate it. This dinner would be the deciding factor – I would be paying more attention to everything for my blog and therefore would be able to make a more sound judgment. Let’s just say the experience, which is detailed below, has left me completely confused and unsure whether I liked the food or not.
We started with cocktails – I have always enjoyed the Mango Mojito, but decided for reasons unknown to start with a Lychee Martini (mistake number one). The Lychee Martini at Zengo had too much lychee juice and was overwhelmingly sweet. Lesson learned. Luckily, we spent some time studying the menu and I was able to correct my cocktail choice. Ahh, the Mango Mojito – something Zengo does very well.
Next, we chose our appetizers: Sea of Cortez Bay Scallop Ceviche, which consists of Thai Sweet Chili / Lime / Avocado / Peanut / Mint / Crispy Shallot and Shrimp-Shiitake Potstickers, which had Won Bok Cabbage / Chili Serrano. They were both delicious – the freshness of the ceviche balanced the bit of oil on the potstickers, creating a lovely appetizer pairing. The meal started wonderfully and continued on that path with the Angry Zengo sushi and Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps that we chose for our main course. The Angry Zengo is my favorite dish and is made up of Yellowfin Tuna / Wasabi Tobiko / Cucumber / Avocado / Sesame-Chipotle Rouille. Both the ceviche and the sushi were refreshing and very enjoyable. The Thai Lettuce Wraps had Chorizo / Peanut / Cilantro / Tamarind and the balance was perfect – not oily at all and very fresh – we should have ended or meal there.
We decided at this point that maybe we were still a little hungry and decided to order the Volcano sushi (Salmon / Blue Crab / Chipotle Aioli) and Fingerling Potatoes & Cotija Cheese. Things could not have ended in a worse way. The Fingerling Potatoes were extremely greasy, and in fact there was a pool of oil on the plate. The potatoes were not done properly and the cheese was covered in oil as well. The Volcano sushi was worse – it tasted as if someone had pre-chewed the salmon and rolled it up in rice, slathering on some aioli and then finishing it off but putting it under the broiler. Needless to say, it was awful and these feelings were only compounded by the situation that followed: My best friend told the waiter the sushi tasted like baby food and the Angry Zengo was far better; his response was “you can buy a tuna sushi roll on the street outside this restaurant out of the back of a car, the Volcano on the other hand, that’s real sushi.” All I have to say is, if that is real sushi, I will reserve my palate for things finer than regurgitated salmon with some aioli smeared over top.
As you can see, I am still left thoroughly confused and while I will always go back for the Mango Mojitos and Angry Zengo sushi – I will be hesitant to try any new dishes.
My final rating: 4 1/2 stars (out of 5) for the Mojitos, Ceviche, and Angry Zengo, 1 star (out of 5) for the Volcano sushi and potatoes.
For more information: http://www.richardsandoval.com/zengodc/index.php