Zengo: Year of the Dragon Brings Fierce New Tastes

Photo Courtesy of Kate Suskin

If you want to impress a date, it’s pretty common knowledge that Zengo is a go-to spot. Nestled in that high-class little neighborhood next to City Park and the Glass House, it’s one of those places where you feel that much cooler once you step inside. Zengo  specializes in the blending of latin and asian…and in honor of this new year of the dragon, their new menu focuses specifically on Shanghai and Sao Paulo which, after a taste test, is very good and sometimes great.

The price point on the drinks may be a little higher, but the skill with which the mixologists create them certainly justifies this. I was actually on a month long hiatus from alcohol, but when I saw these drinks I just couldn’t quite resist, and promptly fell headfirst off the wagon. They include a pomegranate kumquat caipirinha (fruity, good, and worth ordering for the opportunity to say “kumquat” over and over), a szechuan-tini: gin, sake, muddled cucumber, szechuan peppercorn (highly, highly recommended and thrillingly refreshing), and spiked acai tea (comes with one of those magic button flowers that gives the mouth an electric numbness not to be missed).

As for the new dishes, these are the highlights: the Xiaolongbao Soup Dumplings have a wonderful zing with their pork, crab, sausage and assorted other goodies in a bite-sized, masterfully created dumpling, just the right amount of chewy (for best results, bite the top off, drink the soup out, then dip in the sauce that comes with). The spring rolls are decent, along with the coconut crusted bohlinos de bacalhau (a crude comparison would be hushpuppies), a common brazilian cod dish served with green onion and a potent yet lovely cachaca-soy hot mustard. The crown on the menu belongs, as it should, to the entree, dry-aged top sirloin sliced thinly and served with king crab and broccolini and a black bean ginger sauce. If 5280 week offers the opportunity to try this, people will be rampaging through the restaurant even more than they usually do during the 5-7pm happy hour.

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