When Zén first opened its doors in late 2018, the buzz was palpable – people were curious, intrigued, and slightly perplexed, particularly by the steep price tag that accompanied the meal. But as soon as they tried the offerings and enjoyed the immersive dining experience, they claimed that it was a triumph and $450 for a grand multi-course meal was but a small price to pay for a dinner unlike any other.
Today, Zén takes on 2019 with a new spring menu that focuses on seasonality of ingredients, innovation, as well as many hours of research and development. The culinary adventure starts at the ground floor of the three-story shophouse, where a multitude of small bites whet the appetite. There are the addictive one-bite snacks like the Beer-poached crustacean with wild trout roe on a crispy shell and the Jerusalem artichoke, preserved truffle and maple syrup. Meanwhile, the Onion velouté with almond and licorice is a magical concoction that features everything you’d want in a soup – comforting fragrance, creaminess, and enjoyable textures.
Chefs, servers, and the sommelier transform into consummate hosts, cracking jokes, making conversation, and more importantly, educating diners on ingredients and techniques.
As dinner progresses, you make your way up to the main dining room and the real show begins. Chefs, servers, and the sommelier transform into consummate hosts, cracking jokes, making conversation, and more importantly, educating diners on ingredients and techniques. Freshness is best exhibited in one of the main dishes comprised of sweet Australian marron, spruced up with yuzu pepper, butter emulsion, and sansho.
Japanese techniques are also present in the menu, particularly in the delicate chawanmushi punctuated by chunks of foie gras and delicate strands of king crab. What takes the cake, though, is the signature dish of French toast “grande tradition”, hollowed out and filled with a creamy parmesan cheese filling, drizzled with 25-year-old balsamic vinegar, and finally crowned with a freshly shaved mountain of black truffles.
The Nordic sensibilities shone brightly at dessert, particularly with the Sea buckthorn sorbet, sea lettuce, with blue and green tea. It was a delightful marriage of unlikely ingredients, bringing the best of sweet and savory together, resulting in creamy mouthfuls that exhibited true mastery of flavor combinations.