Zen Asian Cuisine is a welcome addition to the healthy dining scene in Charlotte. Located in historic Dilworth on Kenilworth Avenue at East Boulevard, Zen aims to soothe both your taste buds and your soul.
According to co-owner Phong Luong, Zen was created as a restaurant where he could “take his wife for dinner.” Many of the dishes are lighter, creative interpretations of traditional Asian preparations - including Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai.
Zen was designed to appeal to the daytime business crowd as well as evening family gatherings and romantic dates. The lighting is muted with splashes of bright color, particularly behind the bar, for an element of welcome surprise. A number of booths at the entrance offer privacy for those who need it.
My guest and I shared an array of dazzling dishes.
We started off with several appetizers: Tuna Tataki, raw tuna marinated with seasonings and soy sauce, and a California roll that was filled with surimi (mock crab) and avocado. Both were prepared with the freshest of ingredients and arrived at the table in an artful display.
Between courses we cleansed our palate with a nicely marinated cucumber, surimi, and shrimp plate.
The main meal consisted of a broiled sea bass on a bed of sautéed spinach and Thai basil vegetable with tofu. The sea bass was flavorful and so soft it practically melted in the mouth. The vegetable dish was richly flavorful in a soy sauce with lots of fresh basil.
Between the serene ambiance and the healthy food options at Zen Asian Cuisine, my guest and I felt as if we had escaped Charlotte for a far-off, exotic land.
Zen Asian Cuisine
1716 Kenilworth Ave.