Zengo review – what is ‘Pan-Asian fusion food’, anyway?

EDGAR tests out the new menu at popular Le Royal Meridien restaurant Zengo.

EDGAR staff December 23, 2015

We are always slightly worried when we see the word ‘Pan-Asian’ to describe the food at a restaurant. Usually the term is used as a bit of a catch-all, as contingency plan allowing a half decent crispy duck salad to come to the rescue of an appalling sushi roll, or vice versa. 

Similarly, fusion food is also something we remain to be convinced on – some cuisines are simply not meant to be mixed, so why try and force them together? 

So, when we saw both of the dreaded terms applied to the new menu at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa’s restaurant, Zengo, we were dubious to say the least. 

However, we are, on occasion, happy to be proven wrong, and right from the first mouthful, any doubts about Zengo were blown away with spicy tuna sushi roll. A flavour-packed maki roll of tuna tartare, chilli oil, wasabi mayonnaise and mango salsa, the ‘Angry Zengo’ competes with anything the best Japanese restaurants in Dubai can offer.

So, Zengo is pretty hot when it comes to sushi, so why not just leave it at that and stick to Japanese cuisine, we wondered? This thought lasted precisely until we tasted the other starters – tiradito of seared beef and duck maseca pancacke.

The beef came with tempura jalapenos, truffle ponzu and chipotle miso, while the duck was confited and served on a large pancake with chipotle barbecue sauce, fried shallots and crispy rice crackers. Latin American, Chinese, wherever this dishes came from, one thing that is for sure is that they were delicious. 

The Chilean seabass, oven roasted and served with horseradish cream and watercress, was a delicate and deeply flavoured main course. And when it comes to dessert, the inventive dark chocolate pudding served with honeycomb and smoking dry ice was a spectacular – and tasty – end to the meal.

With the new menu, the chefs behind the concept, Mexican-born Richard Sandoval and Singaporean Akmal Anuar, have created an interesting mix of Latin-American and Asian flavours. It really shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. So much so, in fact, that it’s pretty difficult to go to Zengo and get a dish – Asian, Latin-American or otherwise – that you won’t enjoy.

 Details: zengo-dubai.com