Richard Sandoval’s Zengo restaurants always paved the Latin-Asian fusion way, setting the bar high for other "wannbe" fusion restaurants. Zengo’s menu marries regional ingredients into the perfectly innovated dishes. Every few months the chefs at Zengo research, develop, and test new recipes that focus specifically on one Latin and one Asian country. The newest Test Kitchen is Brazil to China. From now until September 15th, these exclusive dishes, designated with a “TK” on the menu, will be available to taste.
The small plates menu features Pan de Queijo Shrimp Buns and Szechuan Eggplant “Pastel”. The shrimp buns are a nice union of the two featured countries with masa-like Brazilian cheese bread filled with chile shrimp served resting on top of a sweet chile orange glaze. The Szechuan eggplant pastel mirrors the Brazilian fast-food dish, which is basically a friend handpie filled with soft tofu, mushrooms, scallions, and served with an amazingly tasty dipping sauce made from chimichurri and sesame soy sauce. The pastel shell will remind you of an oversized fried wonton.
The current TK main dish, Kung Pao Lamb Chops Asado, is stunning, both in presentation, and as the Colorado raised lamb graces your tongue. The tender lamb is grilled to medium rare, topped with a spicy cachaça (sugarcane based spirit) Szechuan sauce, served over heavenly-creamy yucca puree with a side of haricot vert. The lamb is salty and slightly spicy, the yucca is silky-smooth and the lemongrass is opens your senses with its exquisite fragrance. What a harmony of flavors!
A meal, American, Chinese, or Brazilian, wouldn’t be complete without dessert. TK has created the perfect modernist dessert. The Guava Rangoon is a play on the renowned, savory crab Rangoon. But this dessert version of a Rangoon fills crispy wonton wrappers with cream cheese and nestles them next to ducle de leche ice cream and guava puree. It’s a sweet, tangy, salty magnificence.
During the Brazil to China Test Kitchen menu, all of Zengo’s regular menu items are still available to relish. A meal at Zengo wouldn’t be complete without an order of X.O. Edamame. The name is a riff on the X.O. grade Cognac and implies VIP or super-special. The edamame is sautéed in a screaming hot wok with prosciutto, lemongrass, oyster sauce, dried shrimp and scallops, sesame oil, togarashi and a whole horde of other ingredients. (One server steered us to this true replica of the recipe, which we can’t wait to test for ourselves!)
Zengo’s best-seller, Chipotle Miso Glazed Black Cod, arrives to your table as two large cod fillets doused in the miso glaze, drizzled with lemon togarashi aioli, and served on top of steamed asparagus spears.
If you’re looking to play with your food, the Hot Stone 7x Wagyu Beef is for you. Raw Colorado raised melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu beef is served with a hot stone. Wasabi-soy sauce can be used as a quick pre-searing marinade, or as a dipping sauce for the cooked beef. Dip your beef into the sauce, place it on the hot stone, and watch as the stone smokes slightly when the beef is laid on top. It’s sure to turn a few heads from neighboring tables.
Whether you are dining at Zengo to enjoy the new TK Brazil to China menu, or stopping by to enjoy the original favorites, Denver’s Zengo has never been better! Zengo is located in Riverfront Park at 1610 Little Raven Street.