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Susar Lee's Zentan: Has Anyone Been?

Susar Lee is one of Canada's greatest chefs. His Toronto restaurant is a justifiable legend and has long been considered among this international city's best. A month or so ago he opened a restaurant in the "boutique" Donovan House in D. C. It has received, remarkably for me, absolutely no publicity, no hype in our area.

This is a BIG deal. A Torontonian would say this is a very big deal and I would agree having been to Susar Lee's Toronto restaurant-when I could get in!

Has anyone been?

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  1. Just went with a group last night and had a great experience. The sushi platter is pretty unreal - the fish was terrifically fresh, and the presentation was stunning. I was thrilled to discover a new sushi source in the District, especially now that Sushi Taro has revamped itself as a stuffier dining experience. The slaw was also incredible - tangy, crunchy, and an excellent compliment to the other dishes. I would recommend going with a group because the portions are quite large, and it worked well eating family-style.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ustdiner

      His Toronto restaurant was ranked in the world's fifty best restaurants: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susur_Lee

    2. I dined at Zentan last night. I was pleasantly surprised by Zentan. I went there with low expectations due to my recent disappointment by celebrated chefs opening a post in DC (Alain Ducasse, Eric Ripert, Michael Mina, etc).

      The atmosphere is a nondescript. It's black but not stunning. My server, bless her heart, did not speak English well so we experienced some difficulties communicating.

      I started out with a Spicy Thai Martini, and it was fabulous. Not too sweet , not too tart but refreshing with enough punch to unwind and relax.

      We then ordered various of dishes: spicy lobster sushi, yellowtail, crudo assortment, duck rolls, cod, and asparagus.

      The spicy lobster sushi had a good combination of spice, depth from seaweed (don't quote me on this - I may be wrong). The lobster was cooked to perfection. The yellowtail was melt in your mouth fresh, and the restaurant offers you authentic soy sauce (not just the red bottle of soy sauce) and low-sodium.

      The crudo featured scallops, yellowtail, seared tuna, and salmon. The seared tuna lacked flavor but was surprisingly not overpowered by the thin slice of jalepeno. It was served with a golf club shaped artichokes, but the artichokes were overcooked. The salmon and the yellowtail was quite nice. Nice touch of citrus just enough to enhance the lovely texture and richness. The scallops were were quite nice as well but was overpowered by the caramalized nuts.

      The duck rolls were my least favorite. The skin of the rolls were soggy, and I didn't taste much duck but just the bbq-like sauce.

      The cod was quite lovely as well. Simple, Asian preparation where the fish flaked beautifully off with my fork to be savored. The asparagus were perfectly cooked in what appeared to be dashi broth since there was definitely an umami to the perfectly sized stalks.

      I truly look forward to a revisit to sample other dishes that Susar Lee has to offer.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foreverfoodie79

        Thank you for sharing, foreverfoodie79.

      2. I'm going tonight. I'll let you know!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Elyssa

          Elyssa, please report back about your dinner. I'm going tonight and want to hear what you think.

        2. Went to Zentan again last night, and I have to say I was less thrilled than on our first visit. The food was still tasty, but the service needs major help. Our waiter spent 10 minutes taking us through the menu before he asked if any of us would like a drink, he never brought over cocktail menus despite the fact that two members of our party had some from the bar, and it honestly took 30 minutes to get our check because he was flirting with another table.

          1. I'm headed there tonight with a friend. For those of you who have been there, please comment on what I might order (after looking at the menu online).

            Crudo Assortment: Is this just one piece each of the fish or do they give you two for sharing? Should we just go for sashimi pieces instead?

            What's better, the Singapore Slaw or the Beijing Cucumber Salad? I'm trying to figure out if the cucumber salad is similar in form to Teaism's.

            For an entree i was thinking about getting either the Caramelized Black Cod or the Hong Kong Style Steamed Fish. I'm not a big fan of "saucy" dishes, especially on my fish, so if anyone has had either one is the cod or steamed fish like this?

            I'll be sure to report back!

            7 Replies
            1. re: Jacey

              I went with Elyssa to dinner and dinner was ok, but nothing spectacular. I heard the sushi was good, we didn't have sushi (should have) I had a shrimp and tomato dish that was ok, just a bit bland, nothing wrong per se just not worth the price. The singapore slaw was the only really stellar thing that we had, the rest was ok, but not worth the price, in my opinion. We also has the lettuce wraps, again ok, but not stellar. Honestly I would eat some apps and sushi.

              1. re: ktmoomau

                Too bad you didn't like your food. We went last night and thought what we order was quite good and filling. Service was kind of annoying. I think the crudos, fish and sushi is the way to go here, not the "pan Asian" stuff. We had the crudo platter--delicious. I also had the steamed rockfish. It was HUGE and quite good. I thought the broth was a little oily, though. The roasted soya asparagus with garlic was delicious.

                This place is not cheap but if you order correctly, you can have a satisfying meal.

                1. re: Jacey

                  The portions were huge- we took lots of leftovers home. They could cut portions and prices as far as I am concerned. Glad you had a good dinner. I think it would be a good place for someone who likes to eat lighter food (although they would take a bunch home). I have some friends who really like that sort of food, but wouldn't pay those prices.

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    It really depends what you get. My fish was a big portion but my other dining partners' entrees were actually on the smaller side (cod and garlic fried chicken). Some of the other salads were smaller, as well as the appetizers.

                    1. re: Jacey

                      I thought the portion size was very large as well. I went to Susar Lee's restaurant in NYC where the portions were similar but they encouraged the entire table to share the dishes family-style. This makes a lot more sense to me, even at Zentan. I really liked the food and didn't mind having leftovers (especially of my scallop and shrimp w/ glass noodles dish. It was even better the next day for lunch), but I think we would have ordered differently if they had told us the menu was made to share. Probably would have ordered 1 appetizer and 2 entrees to share or visa versa.

                      1. re: Elyssa

                        I went couple of more times after my first visit, and I have to agree with ustdiner that I am less and less thrilled with the restaurant. The Spicy Thai martini is still fabulous. I would avoid sashimi since they slice it so think that you end up gnawing on the flesh rather than savoring it. Sushi is still pretty decent. I haven't been happy with too many cooked dishes.

                        1. re: foreverfoodie79

                          Had their Zentan sushi special for lunch. It was mediocre and a huge disappointment. However having followed his (Susur) stellar career, will attempt his other Asian dishes. But no more sushi.