Get your appetite ready because your mouth will be salivating and thirsty after reading this review. Recently, I was invited in to review a specialty menu at Zengo, a restaurant next to Riverfront Park which lies between downtown and the lower highlands. I was thrilled to be honored with this invitation and excited to try it for the first time. And by “try,” I mean I tasted almost half the menu! :D
Zengo is a Latin-Asian inspired restaurant by chef-owner Richard Sandoval. The Denver location was the original Zengo but there is now three other locations: New York, Washington D.C., and Santa Monica.
Every few months the chefs at Zengo develop new recipes that combine cuisine and spirits from one Latin and one Asian country. This is called the test kitchen (TK) menu and it contains specialty small plates that represent the flavors and techniques from the specific countries. The latest TK menu combines dishes from Hong Kong and San Juan.
We started off with some specialty cocktails on the TK menu: the Gingered Bourbon and Strawberry-Lemon Mojito. They were both quite tasty. The strawberry-lemon mojito was surprisingly not too sweet. It was refreshing and like drinking strawberry lemonade on a hot summer day. The ginger liqueur fuzed well with the bourbon in the cocktail making it a perfectly balanced drink; It was topped with fresh lemon juice and mint.
Next, we ordered a few appetizers: TK Adobo Sweet N’ Sour BBQ Pork Ribs, TK Foie Gras-Plantain Mofongo Shumai, XO Edamame, and Hamachi and Tuna Tiradito. They were all very delicious! The ribs were fall off the bone good and were accompanied with heavenly fried cheese balls. The Shumai had the XO sauce on it and if you have ever had the XO Edamame you know that is a fabulous thing!
The XO sauce on the edamame is made with shrimp, scallops, serrano chiles, prosciutto, and other flavoring. The recipe can actually be found here. It was definitely not just any ole edamame!
We did the tasting of two tiraditos: humachi and tuna. The humachi tiradito had cucumber and siracha sauce. The tuna tiradito had avocado and radish. Both dishes were fresh, light and pleasant. The Lychee Bellini was another TK cocktail. It was on the sweeter side but was still fairly delicate.
After ordering drinks from the special menu, I ventured out to try the regular mojito. Once again, I was surprised at the delicacy of the drink and happy the sweetness was not overbearing. Mojitos can be made way too sweet but this one was done well.
For the main dishes we had the Hong Kong Roast Chicken and Chipotle Miso Glazed Black Cod. The roast chicken was a hearty dish of chicken, Chinese broccoli, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the overall dish was something I would eat regularly.
Though the choice was difficult, the second main dish was the Chipotle Miso Glazed Black Cod. The flavors and texture are hard to even describe; the fish melted in your mouth. The miso glaze added to the already creamy cod making it a delightful combination. It was not a heavy dish but definitely rich.
Though we probably should have not been able to consume another bite, the Abuelita & Peanut Butter Semifreddo was calling my name. This semifreddo was topped with Mexican chocolate, puffed rice-pretzel crumble, and rum caramel. I was satisfied :P
The Zengo experience was a great one! I am not sure it could be anything less than great when delicious food and drinks are involved :) Zengo is a nice restaurant but has a good atmosphere that is still casual and relaxing. Bon Appétit!
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