Have you experienced the joys of bottomless brunch? No, not just the mimosas, the whole thing is bottomless. Zengo is an amusement park where all the rides are free and admission is only $35. In this case, the rides are latin/asian fusion dishes covering everything from potstickers to churros. Plates are small and flavorful and they just keep coming, so don’t be shy. A some point, though, most people will decide to either get a nice buzz and stick with mostly drinks, or stuff themselves with food. Zengo offers a variety of different mimosas, as well as bloody mary’s and sangria. Coffee is complimentary too, but if you want a cappuccino you’ll have to pay extra.
We started with the bay scallop ceviche with Thai chile, avocado, peanuts, and crispy shallots. Ceviche is a good dish to start with because it lets you gauge how fresh the seafood is at a new restaurant, and how bold they’re going to be with spices. Zengo’s bay scallops were tender and not even slightly fishy, and the peanut/chile sauce had some zip. Next, why not sushi for brunch? The “angry Zengo roll” is filled with tuna, cucumber and avocado and topped with wasabi tobiko and little dollops of sesame chipotle rouille. It was a really nice change of texture, and showed that the chef’s skills at Zengo are truly Pan-Asian.
After four drinks and some small plates, we were ready to move on to bigger “brunch plates.” I got the short rib hash with poached egg, yuca, poblano rajas and caramelized onions. A savory mess covered in rich, gooey poached egg, this dish is a sure bet for the “meat and potatoes” types. My girlfriend got the salmon benedict on ciabatta with kimchee and chili hollandaise. Though this was also very good, I wished it had a bit more kimchee on top and spicier hollandaise to balance out the rich ciabatta bread and poached egg. We found ourselves pretty full after this, but we kept going. For journalism!
Now on to crispy tofu with sauteed baby bok choy, bean sprouts, cilantro, ginger and sesame sweet chili. This is a vegetarian’s dream. All the different flavors are able to interact on the simple canvas that is tofu. I’m a mean man, and I could still eat this breakfast lunch and dinner. Too bad brunch ends at 2:30! We just had to try the crispy yucca fries with cotija and togarashi aioli. Don’t order this looking for french fries, yucca is a root vegetable that is more dense than the potato and has an almost chalky texture. With fresh cheese and aioli the plate didn’t last long. At this point, but we just had to try the churros. With Mexican hot chocolate and chai whipped cream, it’s like dessert for brunch!
Zengo is open for brunch Saturday & Sunday 10:30am to 2:30pm, so go see if you can find the bottom this weekend. Remember, they’re right by the light rail so you can keep the mimosas coming!
Geoff Phillips is the Food & Booze desk editor for 303 Magazine. A compulsive foodie, he's constantly on the lookout for offerings that are new, fresh and reasonably priced. If he's not at the farmer's market he's probably browsing recipes.