Asian lunch with a view of Doha’s skyline from the 61st floor? I’m totally up to it! This was exactly why I was ecstatic to dine at one of the finest restaurants in town – Zengo Doha at Kempinski Residences & Suites.
Thanks to the recent Eid holidays, I was able to cross Zengo off my dining list. Dining at high places has recently been added to my things to do here in Qatar. And when I say high, I mean literally high.
Since Kempinski is the highest building in West Bay, it certainly is a must in my books. The Torch (Aspire Tower) is the highest in Doha, and hopefully, soon I get to check out the tea place there.
After an ear-popping elevator ride with a few sprinkling of water that came from who-knows-where, I finally arrived at the 61st floor. Instantly and enthusiastically greeted by the reception staff of Zengo, she led me to the table where my friend was already sitting. One point already to Zengo just for that greeting.
As soon as I sat, I finally got to take in not just the glass windows with the famous view of West Bay and Doha’s Corniche, but also the superb interiors of the restaurant. Dark wood, paired with blue was the theme. Understated elegance. A bit manly, but that all the more adds to its charm.
As one looks up, it’s hard to miss the origami-style blue birds hanging from the open timber slot ceiling. A fitting decor to the height of the current floor we’re in.
Zengo is the Pan-Asian restaurant of Mexican celebrity chef Richard Sandoval in Qatar. A result of his world travels and fascination for the ancient spice routes. His other creations in Qatar include Z Lounge, Isla at The Pearl and Toro Toro at Marsa Malaz Kempinski.
Aleksa, the lone male service staff during that time, was quick to help me with the table napkin. We were presented with the menu and given ample time to choose which we would like to avail – Omakase Sharing or Express Lunch? He also patiently answered our queries regarding the difference and was quick to offer his recommendations. In the end, we settled for Omakase Sharing and hoped that our other friend would choose Express Lunch. Win-win.
In the Japanese tradition, Omakase means letting the chef choose for you. So I was quite surprised that Zengo chose to name one of their business lunch offerings as such. Usually, I see Omakase in sushi restaurants, where you get to sit near the chef in an open kitchen. It basically gives the chef creative freedom to wow you with a memorable dining experience. With this in mind, I was excited what would the Chef chose for us in the Omakase selection.
We started our dining journey with the Sushi selection. A platter of New Volcano, Shrimp Roll, Salmon Gunkan, Hamachi Sashimi, and Tuna Sashimi. Ten pieces representing Japan served with a side of wasabi and gari.
Professing my aversion to spicy foods, Aleksa was quick to point out what to expect from the sushi selection. And that I need not fear for the spice level is almost non-existent. True enough, I barely registered the wasabi mayo in the New Volcano Roll and the spicy mayo in the Shrimp Roll. The flavors and textures of the three rolls were a good follow-up to the fresh and raw delicate slices of Hamachi Sashimi (Yellowtail) and Tuna Sashimi (Yellowfin as per my guess).
After the palate-cleansing pickled ginger (gari), we were served the Dimsum Basket. Inside were two pieces each of the Steamed Bao with Wild Mushrooms and Chicken Siu Mai. Unfortunately, my taste buds gave up resulting in me not being able to finish the steamed bao.
I did love, however, the combination of the umami of the mixed mushrooms with the garlic sauce and truffle oil. It was a good vegetarian option to the ubiquitous steamed meat buns. On the other hand, the Chicken Siu Mai was a densely packed dumpling made of chicken, shiitake mushrooms, and Chinese asparagus.
Although it was good and clearly made with no extenders, the flavors of the mushroom and the asparagus were so subtle that you could barely detect them. Nonetheless, it reminded me of home.
The main dish of the Omakase Lunch is the Hot Platter. Two kinds of Sate – Chicken, and Beef, and BBQ Lamb Ribs. I’m a big fan of Sate and it was a staple for me when I was traveling around Thailand and Indonesia. The Beef Sate was surprisingly tender and marinated well while the Chicken is a letdown. It was dry and lacking in taste even with the peanut sauce surrounding it.
The Barbecue Curry Marinated Lamb Ribs with a sprinkling of sesame and lime are so tender and perfectly grilled. It was worth the sticky fingers.
All that savory goodness was paired with pickled vegetables. It was a match made in meat heaven for the tartness of the pickled vegetable cuts through the greasiness. We were served side dishes as well, Wok Sauteed Vegetables and Garlic Rice. Asian staples that one can never go wrong with.
For dessert, Jessica, our new server, informed us that Gerald’s first choice of Sticky Coconut Rice was not available. Hence, we all chose the Lime Yuzu Cheese Cake to end this culinary journey.
Yuzu (Citrus junus) may look like a deformed lemon, but this exotic Asian fruit has been on a steady rise in popularity. It is usually used in salads as dressing, marinade, dipping sauces, or in cocktails. They have found so many uses for Yuzu in Japan, even a Yuzu flavored kit kat!
The cheesecake was served on a bed of peanut crumble and topped with candied lime and passion fruit seeds. It was very light, subtle, and refreshing, making it a wonderful ending to the flavorful set meal.
Zengo’s bold but understated modern interiors, good food, and good views made taking photographs so easy. The dark wood and glazed dinnerware in shades of blue served as the perfect backdrop for the colorful food of Zengo.
After dining here, I can now understand why this restaurant is award-winning and a favorite of many food bloggers here. Truly, you get the bang for your buck when you dine here. Overall, I was impressed with the Chef’s choices and would definitely like to try their regular menu next time as well as their Afternoon Tea.
For those interested in their Express Lunch, here’s what our friend ordered:
See also: Where else to eat in Doha, Qatar
Zengo Doha Details
Location: 61st floor Kempinski Residences & Suites, Doha, Qatar
Reservations: +974 4405 3560
Disclosure: Not a sponsored post. I paid for everything I ate. 😉
Have you been to any of Richard Sandoval’s restaurants? What do you think of Zengo?