I had a work event last night in the 14th and K neighborhood and after a nice time and some necessary mingling, my friends and I decided to break away from the party and go out for a bite to eat. It was already 8:45 and the area tends to be stale and quiet around that time given that most of the restaurants on the blocks closeby are business lunch options and not ideal for an evening snack. However, there was one place that I knew was the perfect spot for a delicious meal at 9PM on a Tuesday night and that was sure to offer up a fun and lively atmosphere: Zentan. For all the Top Chef Masters fans out there, this is Susur Lee's Washington restaurant which joins his other establishments that are located in New York, Singapore, and Canada. And Susur made the right choice by picking the chic Donovan House Hotel to hold his first DC restaurant as it is modern and beautifully designed, but also situated perfectly between the downtown area to draw in a lunch crowd and also the Logan Circle neighborhood to cater to the locals on the weekends.
From the outside of Zentan which can be found along Thomas Circle, the restaurant appears to be dark and mysterious and does not provide any teasers for those passing by. However, the interior of Zentan is sleek and elegant with lots of candlelight and normally a bustling crowd that cannot be detected from the street. As soon as we walked through the doors last night we were faced with a busy restaurant with few empty tables and a lively collection of people that were clearly enjoying their meals... and drinks. My friends and I started with some Edamame and we shared a few sushi rolls including the spicy tuna, spicy salmon, and yellowtail. All selections were delicious and the sushi was incredibly fresh and provided a great start to a very enjoyable meal.
For my main course I ordered the salmon which was delivered on a long and narrow white dish with multiple pieces of fish staggered throughout allowing the sauce and sides to fill the space between. The salmon was prepared medium rare in a yuzu-tarragon hollandaise with avocado and wasabi mashed potatoes. The sweetness of the yuzu was a wonderful addition to the salmon and balanced out the strong wasabi flavors to deliver a well balanced bite. Another friend in tow ordered the Chinoise Salad with chicken which included romaine, avocado, mango, snowpeas and cashews in a sesame soy dressing. While one might think the salad would be a boring choice at a place like Zentan, I was pleasantly surprised to see how beautiful and appetizing it appeared to be, and I also could not stop picking the cashews off of my friend's plate.
The dinner at Zentan exceeded all expectations for my friends who had never dined there before, and it reaffirmed my support for Zentan's consistent food and trendy vibe. And although I did not have it last night, I have to give a shout out to the chickpea onion tempura appetizer with ginger, mango chutney, and minted yogurt. It is out of this world and in some ways resembles a potato latke with an incredibly different taste and composition that uniquely blends Indian, Asian, and Middle Eastern flavors to create an amazing delicacy. I encourage any large groups dining at Zentan to split this appetizer for the table as it is truly divine.
Zentan has only been open for about a year, but in the multiple times that I have dined there I have been consistently impressed that it delivers great food while also providing an upscale Asian dining option in a great part of town. And, if you are as lucky as I was the last time I ate at Zentan, you might even get to see Susur Lee milling around the restaurant which makes the whole experience even more worthwhile.
Donovan House Hotel
1155 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005