Monday, August 5, 2013

Playing at Zengo's Test Kitchen

The term fusion has been thrown around for many years and the boundaries have been blurred. At Zengo in Santa Monica, they play around with a changing Test Kitchen menu, combining flavors from specific countries. I tried the Test Kitchen menu combining Hong Kong with San Juan, Puerto Rico flavors, which included items like Chicarron-plantain mofongo shumai, ground pork, chicharron, black vinegar, XO sauce

Mofongo Shumai
This was quite an interesting combination. The dumpling skin was nice and thin and while there were traditional Chinese flavors here, the mofongo was very distinctive.

The Adobo sweet n sour BBQ pork ribs were quite tender. They were served with papa rellena, bacon, Jack cheese, chayote slaw

Whole crispy fried fish, malanga puree, black bean vinaigrette, watercress salad
I liked this dish quite a bit, the malanga puree was a very interesting touch. Malanga is a taro-like plant and the thick puree surprisingly worked well with the fish, although my favorite part was the black bean vinaigrette.

Hong Kong half roast chicken, shaoxing wine, moros y cristianos (Cuban rice and beans), Chinese broccoli, shaoxing tomatoes
An overall Chinese flavor but served with Cuban rice and beans!

Coconut tapioca pudding, lemon sorbet, pineapple gelee

The Test Kitchen menu also includes a couple of special cocktails. This menu had Gingered bourbon (bourbon, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup), but I had to ask them if they can make me the Horchata spiked with tequila from the previous menu ($10). Luckily, they still had some horchata left! I thought the current Test Kitchen cocktails could be much more interesting, though.

Even with the abundance of fusion food in LA, I was surprised that I still found some unique and interesting combinations of flavors on the Test Kitchen menu. The current Test Kitchen menu will remain until Sept 30th, so you have plenty of time to try it.


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