Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lunch Liaisons: Zengo

(Lunch liaisons is a regular segment wherein C and I meet for weekday lunch dates. The associated posts are consistent with the quick and painless lunch hour theme).

Had a surprisingly delicious lunch at Zengo on Monday; not that I thought it would be bad, just not as tasty as it turned out to be. We've been to Richard Sandoval's other local outpost, Sandia in Tyson's Corner, which is acceptable enough, but Zengo sets the bar.

Though the menu offers economical Bento lunches ranging from $10 to $19, we were too intrigued by the various temptations to 'box' ourselves in (admit it; that at least gave you a little chuckle). We had trouble deciding between dim sum, rolls, small plates, rice dishes, and sandwiches, so we ordered as many of the courses as we could possibly finish. C, smart man that I married, asked that the courses be served as they were ready, so we had a nice progression of dishes. We started with the duck tacos, which were somewhat anticlimactic, because they were absolutely my favorite dish of the meal. Yum! The Peking duck was stewed with jalapenos, and served with daikon pancakes (brilliant! - light to balance out the duck) and curried apple slaw. Even without the orange-coriander sauce (also v. tasty), the tacos were full of flavor. The Thai chicken empanadas, which I was convinced would be dry and dull, were actually quite delicious, especially when topped with the mango salsa. We went with a Kobe beef roll because it seemed to be a house specialty. While not horrible, the tangy flavor of the Tamago was not enough to overcome the tough seared beef. I wish we had saved room for dessert instead. Things improved quickly, however, with a palate-pleasing salad of seared tuna, avocado, pears, and wasabi-lemon vinaigrette. Finally, we finished stuffing ourselves with a pork carnitas torta, perhaps the best integration of Sandoval's Asian and Latin Fusion flavors on display at Zengo. This 'torta' was not an open-faced tortilla, but a Chinese bun topped with purple cabbage, smoky carnitas, and a serious salsa verde. The accompanying 'Togarashi' fries are really Five Guy's cajun fries, but I was so distracted by the delicious sandwich that I didn't have time to bother with the fries. All in all, worth a repeat visit.


Manimal said...

I was so pleasantly surprised by Zengo. You're right, the daikon duck tacos were amazing!

Angela said...

I really liked Zengo the one time Mark and I ate there for a quick pre-movie dinner - this review makes me want to go back for a full meal! I'm drooling thinking about the duck dish...