Restaurants & Bars

Zazoo – Yahoo! – Killer kebabs & va-va-voom view (Jack London Square)

rworange | Oct 4, 200501:24 AM     1

Zazoo’s is located in a handsome restaurant that once housed the Rusty Scupper. It is built over the water and has a spectacular view of the Oakland Estuary. Even more spectacular are the kebabs.

The chunks of salmon marinated in garlic, and lemon sauce were charcoal grilled, searing in the juices. They were succulent and wonderful. They came with two small pieces of flat bread, a grilled tomato half, and lots of rice that seemed lightly fried and mildly spiced. I don’t like rice that much, so I pretty much ignored it, especially since it was a little drier than I like. There was a lemon dipping sauce which was dead cold. I didn’t use it as it cooled the almost sizzling salmon without improving the flavor.

The appetizer was so large, it could have been dinner in itself, so I wasn’t too hungry by time the salmon kebobs arrived.

Zazoo’s is a restaurant that serves American food like seafood, steak and chicken as well as Afghani food. I’ll be too busy sampling the tasty Afghani side of the menu to get to the American side for a while. However, I do see sampling an omelet in the near future.

The appetizer was Mantoo which was nothing like the menu description – “Steamed pastry stuffed with ground beef, seasonings and topped with yogurt sauce” but that was a good thing. I’m thinking puri meets ravioli meets dim sum dumplings. It works.

The large thin dumplings wrapped like a beggars purse were stuffed with spices, ground beef, a lentil like bean and steamed. They were topped with a sauce with more ground beef, red beans, spices and a lovely, silky yogurt that tasted like sour cream.

For dessert there was firni, a panna cotta like pudding gently flavored with a hint of rosewater and caramom and sprinkled with ground pistachios. Excellent.

Other Afghani desserts included sheer yaku, an Afghani ice cream and a cup of Afghani cappucino. There are a few Mid-Eastern dishes, and dessert included baklava. The American dessert was, well, apple pie. There was also vanila ice cream and cheese cake.

The only off thing was the bread – skip it. It tasted liked Safeway sweet sandwich rolls which were turning hard after being microwaved.

There was only one other couple there tonight and they were just having drinks. With the pretty view and the nice music, the place was inviting and didn’t feel empty. Tugboats cruised up the estuary, calling it a night. Seagulls and pelicans rode the evening breezes. The sky turned wonderful colors as the sun set. Even after dark the lights of the marina twinkled and in the distance planes arrived and departed from the Oakland airport.

There was a slight service issue. It took about a half hour for the appetizer to arrive. I was beginning to suspect that they called the cook at home and said “Come in. We have a customer”. When she served the appetizer, it was explained that the mantoo takes 25 minutes to steam. It would have been nice info to have before hand. Also, the kebobs showed up almost immediately after. Since tonight was slow, this might not be the regular weekend staff. She was very pleasant and waiting while gazing out at the water wasn’t exactly a bother. I’d caution that it might be a good idea to work with the server about timing dishes.

More about the restaurant and dishes are in the link below which also links to the website.

I’ll qualify this all with the fact that I’ve never eaten Afgahni food before, so I have nothing to compare it with. On the other hand, I don’t like most Mid-Eastern food, especially lentil/bean based things, but I enjoyed this food very much. I plan to try all the Afgahni dishes eventually. And to paraphrase East Bay Express critic Johnatan Kauffmann, “Kebobs I know”. If the salmon was that good, I can hardly wait to try the lamb.

I really want to try this place on a Friday or Saturday night when there is live music. There’s a stage area and dance floor. The sound system was stellar and some very nice jazz cd’s were played tonight. There’s also a large outdoor patio, so it would be a nice place to go on a sunny day.

The interior has that 1980’s Rusty Scupper / Chart House look with high celings. There are two large upstairs dining lofts that overlook the main restaurant. The bar area had the look of a place where Tom Cruise would be mixing up the drinks. There are a few pictures of visiting celebrities and local politicians on the walls.

This seems like a great place to hold an event. The owner (manager?), Zahra Homayun, is such a nice woman. I stopped by last week and they were closed for an event. While looking over the outdoor menu, she came out and chatted a bit, saying they had a party of 150.

When I stopped by tonight, she said that if she knew it was only me, one person, she would have had me come in. She thought I was with a group. As she said, there’s always a place to fit one person, even if there is a party.

The link below was my question about Zazoo’s. Thanks ‘try this’ for the link to a previous brief post from another Chowhound who liked Zazoo. It gave me a little extra incentive to try it out. It would be really great if the American side of the menu is good too.

Parking is free and easy in the large lot. Check the gallery on the website for more pictures of the restaurant and the lovely view.

In the picture below the blue stage is to the left. Just above it is one of the dining lofts. Tbe other loft is where the upstairs windows are. It seems like these would be nice places to reserve for a private party.

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

Image: http://www.zazoosrestaurant.com/image...

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