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Jul 7, 2005 09:07 PM

Zen 32 PHX- Should have known better.

  • l

Ok hounds please don't draw and quarter me when I tell you that I purposely went to Zen 32 Sushi restaurant for their sushi happy hour last night. Now I normally only eat Sushi at establishments in Arizona where I know I am going to get a good meal, typically Zen 32 IMO is not one of them. But I digress, the real reason that I am writing this is to vent about the TERRIBLE service and beyond bad sushi bf and I were served last night.

We were looking to not go far in our neighborhood and didn't want to drop a lot of cash. So he said hey how about Zen 32. This is coming out of the mouth of someone who lived in Asia for over a year. So we arrive around 5:45 and the place is nearly dead. We were greeted by the hostess who was very pleasant, and seated us promptly. Our waitress arrived with water and took our drink orders and we decided which sushi to graze on. We ended up ordering squid salad, tuna, white fish, shrimp and two cut rolls, one spicy tuna and the other spicy yellowtail. The food was delivered promptly and I have to say out loud that are waitress was very pleasant and attentive. Where you may ask did the TERRIBLE service come in to play? Hold tight.

We began with the spicy tuna roll and it was so-so. Not terrible but certainly not up to par with Sushi Mishima or Kampai. The next bite was probably the foulest thing I have ever tasted. I took the whole piece of white fish and put it in my mouth took a bite and promptly spit it out. It was BAAAAAAD Fish. Just as that was happening our attentive server came by to see if we needed a drink refill, we said yes and told her of the foul fish. She apologized and promptly went in to get I assume tell the manager. She did. He came out. This is where it gets horrible. He told us sorry about the fish and he would remove it off our bill, did we need anything else? No, we said thank you and he turned and walked away. About 5 min later he came back and said “ I just wanted to let you know that I tasted the white fish and it was fine, I will still take it off your bill but it was fine.” I was shocked and all I could say was a hesitant um…. Ok… He continued his diatribe by further stating that maybe I wasn’t used to white fish, it was halibut after all. He turned and walked away. I have never been treated like that by the manager of a restaurant, his opinion really doesn’t matter to me, what matters is that when I tasted the fish it tasted bad. And yes, I have eaten my share of white fish including halibut over the years.

We promptly asked for the check from the server paid our bill, and also asked for the managers and owners email address.

How was the rest of the food? The soybeans were undercooked and tough, the rolls were nothing short of tasting like they came from Kyoto Bowl and the Tuna was decent. We decided right then and there a couple of things. 1.You get what you pay for; we will never eat at this establishment again no matter how much we want sushi, we will go without. 2. We were not going to penalize the waitress; she was so pleasant and responsive and did everything right so we left a nice fat tip for her. 3. I was promptly going to email this to the manager and owner however I do not expect to get a response.

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  1. s
    Seth Chadwick

    I am sorry you had such a horrible experience, Leanne. Bad fish is something that I fear tasting because it is so awful it is hard to get that taste out of your mouth for the rest of any meal.

    The fact that the manager would quibble with you about it is really telling. It wasn't as if you ate everything on the table and then complained that the soup was cold so you aren't paying for anything.

    I tend to shy away from trendy places and Zen 32 has always struck me as part of the Biltmore trend mojo, so I have actively avoided it.

    On an up note, you live in my neighborhood, so we may have to review a place together someday soon. :o)


    6 Replies
    1. re: Seth Chadwick

      Thanks for the condolences Seth. I too usually stay away from the trendy places but I don't know what I was thinking. My Email is above. Anytime you want to do a joint review I am game!



      1. re: Leanne
        JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

        I wanna come on the joint review too ;-)


        1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)
          Seth Chadwick

          Awesome!! I would love to have you along, JK. :o)


          1. re: Seth Chadwick

            Nooooo! Y'all do NOT want to go anywhere with Leanne!

            Unless, I can come too.

            BTW, we're not stangers, as you may have guessed.

            Leanne, Zen? A moment of weakness, I know. Come on, didn't we learn our lesson at Lisa's b'day party LAST summer? That was the last time I was there.

            Where can we go for a review?

            1. re: Gayle
              Seth Chadwick

              Hmmm... well, not Bamboo Club or Mi Patio. :o)


              1. re: Seth Chadwick

                I vote for Chelsea's Kithcen. I haven't seen much on it on the board.

    2. My husband seems to like the place, though I don't see the draw. Never had anything bad there, but just don't really care for it much. However, I'll go along with it when he chooses Zen 32 occasionally because it means we get to have dessert at the terrific gelato place right across from it - can't remember the name.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Deenso

        Yahoo! Yellow Pages says:

        Gelato Spot Italian Dessert
        3164 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016


      2. Yikes. Ate there tonight and couldn't believe how blah was the food. The rolls were tiny. The fish itself was limp. It didn't smell fishy, nor did it taste off - but it certainly wasn't flavorful either. The sea didn't speak to me. The Miso could have come from a packet.

        Serving four slim rolls on a giant white plate didn't help make them look bigger. Nor did the collection of "sushi chefs" who looked like the line crew at Dennys. That might help explain why some of my pieces contained no filling at all.

        It's a nice space with a nice patio and nice looking people. And maybe that's the problem. Our group didn't seem to care that much about the food. The restaurant didn't seem to have that Japanese fanaticism for quality and flavor. As long as nothing went wrong, all parties seemed placated.

        That might work in many spaces, but one of the things I love about real Japanese cuisine is their fervor for perfection. You know what I mean? The chefs who hit the docks at 4 a.m. to buy the best pieces. The chef who knows that the perfect roll is not perfect should it have one grain of rice too many, or one too few. The one that spends countless hours sharpening knives so that there are no impure cuts. That same stressed chef who will suddenly carve a Swallow out of an orange just to thank you.

        Does PHX have these folks?

        1. I went there a couple of years ago and thought it was probably the worst sushi place I had been to in Phoenix.The last poster was right about the chefs looking like the line crew at Denny's.Everything was dry, old and tasteless.It seemed to me it was a place to see and be seen.More of a watering hole than a place for good sushi.

          1. The only thing I like there is the dynamite scallops. They make them nice and spicey.