Elsewhere I've noted that our former favorite Mamaroneck sushi bar had been bought out and merged with another restaurant and we no longer felt confident in them--and I've decided I need to feel rather confident in my sushi chef or I'll go for another cuisine. The TripAdvisor reviews of Zenzo inspired confidence, so we took the opportunity to give them a whirl. There were imperfections--but the overall experience was so satisfying that I found the shortcomings endearing rather than annoying.
I'm wondering if there's a master restaurant designer who consults with most of the eateries along Mamaroneck Avenue? This place, like others in the neighborhood, is deeply appealing to the eyes--grey tones with lots of stone and tile accented by mellow blue and deep red lighting. They can sit eight at the sushi bar to watch the knife-work up close, there are plenty of two- and four-topper tables, and one larger booth in the rear.
Service was prompt, attentive and friendly. That said, our server's accent was so heavy it was a little hard to understand him--but he comprehended us properly so there really were no problems.
The menu is extensive, of course primarily concerned with sushi and sashimi but also with some standard oriental wok entrees like General Tso's chicken or fried rice or pad Thai. They even offer some plain seared fish filets or rack of lamb for those who don't want to leave America. But our policy is to stick to the top of the restaurant's menu, and so we did.
Their alcohol list has a few domestic wines and a few beers, a full range of sake (of course), and a few signature cocktails. I wanted to try one of their upscale single-malt Scotches (Hazelburn, was it?) but they were all out! Disappointed, I consoled myself with some of their mild green tea, and then opted for an Emporia from their "martini" menu. Now, I'm a martini purist: gin, dry vermouth, unstuffed pitted olive or lemon twist. I accept subbing vodka, pouring in a little pickle juice, and garnishing with onions or pickles or bleu-cheese stuffed olives, but when you start blending fruit-infused vodka and fruit nectars and liqueurs and agave, that ain't a martini and you should have to give it a new name! Well, this drink was gin, sake, and some fruit juices (lime, lychee, and something else)--and that's close enough to a traditional martini that I didn't need to process my issues while enjoying it--it's a well balanced blend of sweet and sharp flavors.
They offer hot and cold appetizers; we shared a Blue Crab on the way. This sashimi creation is a just-so avacado half containing a generous scoop of creamy blue crab salad. I suppose you can get western-style utensils brought to the table on request, but my wife and I accepted the chopsticks challenge since that's all that was provided in their standard table setting. Incidentally, their chopsticks are the high-quality reusable finished kind and not the cheap pull-apart bamboo disposables--note my pleasure! Anyway, the avocado yielded to being sliced up with chopsticks and, after a good deal of maneuvering our fingers and elbows, we had managed to clean the dish. It was spectacular!
For the main course we selected from Zenzo's signature rolls. My wife had a Crazy Friday and a 1661 Mamaroneck; I tried one of the Mamaroneck and thought it quite savory, I did not try her Crazy Friday but she was raving about it. I opted for the Zenso (if it carries their name it must be tops?) and I though it was very good. These signature rolls show the creative side of their chefs, combining a melange of fillings and sauces to provide a unique approach to the cuisine. I also had a couple of their a la carte sashimi: unagi (freshwater eel) and salmon roe. The roe arrived on a leaf of some sort of lettuce nestled in a half-rind of lemon; the mild and super-fresh roe was perfectly complemented by the other flavors. Mindful that Orientals do not, as the Frugal Gourmet put it, pretend not to be eating, I went ahead and picked the thing up and bit in directly--and then used the chopsticks to gather up every last little egg that I dropped. Meanwhile, the eel--well, it's become my favorite sushi ingredient, and these two filets were deeply rewarding atop a few thin juliennes of cucumber.
I am pleased to say that they've filled the void, whenever we're in the Mamaroneck vicinity we'll try to plan to return.
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