Remember when Cathedral quarter consisted of a burnt-out arcade, the John Hewitt, Nicks warehouse and some gay bars? It wasn't even called the Cathedral quarter... how times have changed.
Now we are completely spoiled for choice in Cathedral quarter with many many restaurants joining Nicks: The Potted Hen, Salt bistro, 4th wall, Made in Belfast, Coppi, Hill street brasserie, The Merchant, Ramada encore, 2 taps, 21 social, the Mac, ... even the Spaniard has decent food!
Many of these would feature in anyone's top 10 places to eat in Belfast, and joining them is House of Zen, expanding the Fung empire right in the best place of all - St. Anne's Square.
The original Zen in Adelaide street (sharing it's kitchen with the excellent Haka noodles) was focussed mainly on Japanese food, which it did very well - rivalled only by Sakura and Ginger Tree. House of Zen goes back to the owner's roots and is firmly Chinese - although retaining a few classics from original Zen, such as the deep fried angry crab.
The interior is modern and classy and a bit dark. The food is modern and classy as well, but presentation is a touch better than original Zen. I had the angry crab, and it was presented in a little basket with a corriander leaf - in original Zen it's on a plate with a fork. Tasted the same, which is a good thing. My partner had the house special starter of prawns which she raved about.
Her main was a bit dull - bog standard Chinese black bean sauce. I had the lamb hoi sin pancakes, something I've only had before about 15 years ago at 3am in the Summer Palace behind Laverys. It was good - lamb is a great substitute for Duck imho.
Service was a bit erratic, but friendly and they happily corrected the mistake they made on the bill.
Overall - definitely a great addition to the restaurant scene, and location is hard to beat.
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