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ZenChi Cafe - Studio City


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Restaurants & Bars 5

ZenChi Cafe - Studio City

Muhlyssa | Jan 6, 2007 04:47 AM

After almost two years of driving by everyday on my way to work, ZenChi is open and really nice. We did not make a reservation but when we got there, about 6:15 Friday night, it was empty so not having a booking was not a problem. When we left about an hour or so later, it was pretty full. It's not a big place, maybe 25 tables, the interior is gorgeous, Asian feel with dark woods at a high gloss, with an open kitchen. We were greeted by a very nice host, a man in his probably 50's, which is so rare to see in a host. Most of the waitstaff was young, probably in their 20’s. Throughout the evening, the service was very attentive and warm.

The menus are heavy wood plaques, a little hard to deal with because they are tall and weighty. I took a copy of a paper menu so I could report back properly.

They do have a full bar, a little section of the menu is devoted to martinis and cocktails all made with Korean Soju according to the menu. They cost $8.50 and are things like mojitos, cosmos, margaritas etc. They have the martinis you'd expect like apple, lemon drop and a few interesting sounding ones like lychee, peach and pomegranate. We did not try any. They also have something on the menu called "ZenChi Signature Cocktail OK '06" for $10 which is a nod to the signage that was posted outside the restaurant during their almost two years of construction.

The starters range from $8 to $12 and are things like Thai pork ribs ($8), crunchy calamari ($10) and blue crab cakes ($12). The most interesting thing on the starters menu sounds like a sampler platter they are calling “Floating Market” Little Bites, which included “money basket,” shrimp spring roll and mini-crab cake. This was one of two things listed on the menu the waitress told us they were not offering that evening.

Salads range from $8 to $12 and you could add grilled chicken for $4 or shrimp for $6 if you wanted to make them meal salads. They had typical salads like a classic Caesar or warm spinach and Chinese salad with cabbage. An intriguing salad on offer is a soft-sell crab tempura salad with micro-greens and Thai chile coulis.

Entrees range from $16 for a tofu and veggie stir-fry to as high as $25 for Thai-glazed Lamb Chops with rosemary pesto and mashed potatoes. My husband and I each had the butterflied Cornish game hen with a honey-Dijon mustard. It came with curry sweet potato fries, which were delicious, thin, crispy and flavorful. There are a few fish dishes on the menu, an Asian Pesto crusted salmon, a seared ahi and a Chilean sea bass. All of the mains came with a starch (rice, potatoes) or you can add additional sides for $4 like veggies or fries or rice, The portion on the Cornish game hen was very large, neither of us could finish ours.

There are also panini, all served with fries in the $10 to $14 range including a ground Kobe, crab cake BLT and vegetable.

I am not a wine drinker, so I cannot speak with any knowledge about the wine list. There are about 10 whites by the glass, 10 reds by the glass, 12 whites by the bottle and 20 reds by the bottle. I see names like Coppola, Clos Du Val, Smoking Loon, Eschol, Stags’ Leap. The by the glass prices range from $8-$10 and the by the bottle prices range from $26-$65. No note on the menu about corkage and I didn’t ask. There are also four beers on the menu.

Not a huge selection of desserts (only four and the one we wanted, they didn’t have). There is a chocolate soufflé for $10, seasonal tart tatin for $8 and what we tried called Big Buddha Banana Dream, which was much like a bananas foster (3 liquor banana sauté, vanilla bean ice cream and some assorted nuts – quite tasty. The Macadamia Nougatine Ice Cream Sandwich with very dark chocolate and green tea ice creams was what we really wanted but they didn’t have.

The bill with two soft drinks came to $50 before tip. It’s not a cheap place but I think it is priced appropriately for the quality, which was very high. There is valet parking on the side street just east of Tujunga, but don’t get sucked into it as there is ample street parking that is safe.

There is no doubt that we will be back to try some other offerings as it is pretty close to where we live.

ZenChi Café
11334 Moorpark St\
Studio City, CA 91602
Just east of Tujunga

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