My first formal review

I did my first formal review yesterday (21st January) yesterday at Zenzi, Bandra. it was really a special occasion as I had always dreamed of doing this. My earlier posts were about my own eating experiences. But this was organised by and I was the official food reviewer.

Kirti, of feastguru, got in touch with me earlier through Orkut after seeing some of my posts on food. It has been great knowing him as it's been a real meeting of minds. He has published some of my articles on his site which has been a big high. (I've put a picture of the two of us in the Zenzi kitchen.) So it was great actually meeting him out of cyber space. Kirti, like me, seems to be a man of food, and therefore, a good man :). In fact the review was quite crazily exciting. We climbed the stairs to the kitchen, photographed, the food, came down and ate.

We apparently did this 8 times! You can read Kirti's account of this at Being in the kitchen and seeing the chef put together the dishes was an amazing experience.

And here's the review (unlike my other posts, the focus is more on the food rather than the surrounding anecdotes though):

I have been to Zenzi twice before. Once was for our wedding anniversary when the place was quite new and then once on New Year’s Eve, 2005.

If you the see the trend, I have gone there on ‘special occasions’. And it is a special occasion place. The ambiance is nice and different with an open air section modelled apparently on the verandas of houses in the Far East. The presentation of the food is really classy and exotic, similar to what they show on fine dining shows on TV. In fact the food is different too and the restaurant’s theme is supposed to be a fusion of Far Eastern and European flavours. In fact the menu card, with its sprinkling of words such as ‘Saigon’, ‘Malay Lashka’, ‘Wasabi’, “Indonesian Five Spices’, is reminiscent of Somerset Maugham short stories which were often based in the Far East.

My yardstick for a restaurant is whether it has dishes which are memorable. In fact I remember having the Indonesia Five – Spice duck when I first came here years back. Duck meat was quite unique as was the preparation. In fact duck meat has a distinctive taste of its own which I felt was closer to red meat than chicken. The Five spice sauce, like lot of the other sauces here, had a sweetish after taste with a slight tanginess. The duck was carved into thin slices and looked as appetising as it tasted. Yes, definitely a must have.

We started our meal this time with honey wasabi prawns. The prawns were big and juicy with minimal batter. The sauce was more honey than wasabi though. Wasabi, in fact, is a very pungent flavour which can bring tears to the eyes of the uninitiated. So probably this was a better balance. It came with some raw Norwegian salmon on the side which had a tongue tingling, sharp taste of its own.

I also like the Duck gyozo, a Japanese preparation which had a dumpling stuffed with minced duck in the sweet and tangy five spice sauce.

I am not much of a salad person but the Feta Pomegranate salad was a nice break from the Far Eastern tastes. It was made rocquette leaves with bits of slightly salty, succulent and soft goat cheese. The cheese was quite different from what one normally has and is worth trying out.

We had a salmon vanilla mirin as part of the main course. This had a very juicy piece of salmon (rawas) in teriyaki sauce. I quite liked it though I am not much a fish person normally.
Another interesting dish was the pepper chicken. It was described as batter fried chicken breast but I would never have guessed it had I not read the menu. I normally hate the breast of chicken as it is very chewy. This however was nice and springy and I honestly thought they had used leg pieces. The orangish pepper and chilly sauce was quite tasty too.

We also had something called ossobucco. I would describe it as an atom bomb. I was a bit shaken when I saw what looked like a HUGE chunk of lamb. However, don’t be deceived by its mammoth looks. It was actually really tender and I could slice it with soft cuts with just a fork!

In fact I was surprised by the ease at which I cut the mountain-like portion of lamb. The sauce was an interesting mix of Malay lashka (a form of soup) and Thai red curry. And it was served with flat noodles.

We had an interesting brownie for dessert. It seemed a bit bitter on the first bite. On the second bite I realised that it was actually a bit spicy or teekha/ jhaal. It turned out that the brownie was flavoured with jalapeno peppers!

A sweet and fiery end to an exotic eating experience.


Gaurav said…
Zenzi is such a part of the 'scene' that i avoid going there often which is unfortunate as the one or two times i have been there i have had brilliant food.

place gets overlooked for food because of its popularity as a meeting/drinking place.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Must confess that I was never part of the scene. Did some basic pubbing - Temptations, Totos, Gokul, tavern till we got married. Then couldn't afford going out for a while. Now we are more dinner or coffee shop people.

But their food is good. Once had a NY eve dinner there. very special. But couldn't get tables in later years
RJ said…
Hmm.. So they've substitued the veal shanks with lamb shanks in this version of the Osso Bucco? Since this is essentially italian (i think), do they also have european stuff on their menu? Good point about the balance required while using wasabi.. love sushi, and hence the pungent bite of wasabi.. thanks for dropping by the blog. Old Monk is truly numero uno :)

Kalyan Karmakar said…
Hey Ranjeet,

Zenzi has a far easter theme but the owners are Dutch. So has a European influence as well.

Thanks for the dope on Osso Bucco.

And they serve Old Monk too I think :)