Richard Sandoval’s popular Chinatown restaurant Zengo has a new chef and a new menu, bringing new life into this D.C. staple. I went over to sample the new goods and am happy to report that everything was delicious. I was also happy to learn that they will keep the crispy tofu on the menu, which many of you know if one of my favorite vegetarian dishes in D.C.
The menu continues to features small and large plates, but there is a definitely a breath of fresh air surrounding the cuisine. The new chef, Neiman Lee, is from South Korean, and his focus is global fare with a flair. He continues to highlight the Asian-Latin fusion of the theme, with dishes like crispy asparagus and avocado sushi, warm chipotle miso soup, and soy glazed sweet potatoes with pumpkin seeds, while bringing in his Korean background with new dishes like bibimbap and potstickers.
His fried rice is divine, and arepas with mushrooms are crispy-savory-hearty all at once. Crunchy tempura veggies, shisto peppers, and wok fried mushrooms are also new additions. Of course, the tofu with bok choy and sweet and spicy aioli is always a highlight. Choices are plentiful for vegetarians and gluten-free diners.
For dessert, churros and sweet empanadas are the way to go. The churros come with a decadent chocolate dipping sauce, and the empanadas have a luscious pear filling.
All in all a solid performance from the new chef. Looks like an old favorite is a new favorite.