zentan salmon

I’m pretty sure I read about Zentan when they opened back in June, but it had somehow dropped off my radar up until now. How this happened, I’m not sure, since they are a sushi place, and I am always eager to try a new sushi joint!

Zentan is the restaurant connected to the Donovan House, a sleek, James Bond-esque hotel in Thomas Circle. First impression was very good. Loved the decor of the place, especially the rustic family style tables in the middle of the room. (Though the chairs for those tables have no backs! I’d be a little uncomfortable, unless I was just there for a happy hour).

I made my way over there last week to meet up with a friend who lives within walking distance to the restaurant. It’s also just a short distance from my place of work, so naturally we both wanted to really love this place. Unfortunately…I didn’t.

The evening started off strong, however, with the above dish: salmon crudo with cilantro, chives, sea salt, shiso & lime ponzu juice. Each slice came topped with a tiny sliver of lime. Loved the tartness of this dish! Ponzu (soy sauce and citrus) is a pretty classic flavor profile, and it was really well done here.

The rest of the meal:

zentan roll

Fire Cracker Roll
shrimp tempura, spicy jumbo lump crab salad

I couldn’t quite get a good angle for this shot, so this was the best I could do. I really enjoyed this roll! The crispy panko flakes added some great texture, and the crab was very flavorful.

zentan duck

Szechwan Style Half Duck
bean djan & lotus crepe

After much deliberation, I finally picked the duck for my entree. (Really…this is why I need to study the menu beforehand, because it otherwise takes me forever to make up my mind!). I thought I had chosen wisely when the plate was set before me: gorgeous!! Plus, it’s “activity food”, as I like to call it, which is always fun. It came with three different dippings (hoisin, mango chutney and mango sauce, I believe). I eagerly constructed my first duck wrap, piling it high with cucumber, green onion, cilantro and duck, with a smattering of hoisin on top. I took an expectant bite…

I have never been so disappointed in my life. This dish had NO flavor!! The duck was utterly unseasoned, the crepes were sad flavorless things, and even the cilantro – which has never let me down before – was limp and lifeless. I couldn’t taste anything, and that made me very sad indeed. The sauces had flavor, but it’s hard to carry an entire dish on just dipping sauce. I could have cried.

zentan rice

Crispy Vegetable Fried Rice, Roasted Almonds
with beef

My friend got the fried rice, which wasn’t too bad, but also a little bland. I had to add soy sauce to it to get any flavor out of it. I don’t think fried rice is difficult to make flavorful. Cook it in sesame oil and bang, instant seasoning! Not sure what went wrong here. (>__<); zentan cake

The chocolate cake dessert was actually pretty good, though I don’t think it’s a great idea to use a dark plate when putting down a dark sauce. (Plus, dark plates photograph badly, lol). This cake came warm, with a gooey center of oozing chocolate. Very good, although nothing interesting otherwise. I think if I had more room for dessert, I would’ve gotten the dessert “dim sum” platter, which is a smorgasbord of samplings from their dessert menu. =)

I would definitely come back for a happy hour, drinks and sushi or dessert. But as for dinner…I’d have to be convinced to give it another go.

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