Zengo Santa Monica

Restaurant in Los Angeles

Latin-Asian Restaurant

It’s not new.  Los Angeles has been ripe with fusions and flavours and innovations so evocative they border on the ridiculous (can the bone marrow moment be done now, please?).  But sometimes, the artful accolade of a restaurateur revolutionizes the balance between classic flavours and inspired spins on them.  And he marinates them all with an ocean breeze, a sea salted sky, and a view that won’t quit.

Hosting the latest of the Richard Sandoval greats – Zengo has moved into the Santa Monica Place penthouse.

The space is plum luscious: a stunning sprawl of a terrace scenically straddling The Pacific and The Promenade.  Two plasmas air Game 6 of The NBA finals, proving that the only way to improve upon al fresco feasting is to feature some phenomenal broadcasting, à la carte.  Quintessentially Santa Monica - take something irresistible and find a way to make it more so.

Like the menu.

Latin Asian cuisine – shared plates mostly, though some are so good that sharing harkens your inner two year old.  You kind of hate to.

The charred tuna wonton tacos?  With the sushi rice, and the mango salsa?  How well it pairs with a Lemongrass Gin Gin.  Slightly sweet, so clean, so good.  The Angry Zengo – featuring spicy yellowfin and chipotle rouille – it presents as beautifully as it tastes.  Order it beside the Sweet and Spicy Salmon Roll off the Happy Hour Menu.  Guaranteed those two rolls will pique your interest on every remaining sushi option.  Next stop: They Waygu Roll.  Sushi meets Sriracha?  Please sir, may I have another.

Getting your greens is no problem, and Chef Sandoval does not slouch on creativity even when it comes to brussels and broccolini.  A little lemongrass mojo here, some slivered apple accoutrement there, nothing is ordinary.  Convention does not live in this house.

And here’s the happy hour I’m always in search of.  Plates ranging from $4-$7, inspired beverages, all under the unveiled setting sun.  Can’t make the Sunday to Thursday 3pm-7pm window?  Embrace the Reverse Happy Hour, Sunday-Friday, 9pm-close.  Proof that it’s always Happy Hour somewhere...especially west of The 405.

They claim it’s their astounding Tequila collection, or maybe their Latin wines that will put them on the map.  Sitting up there under the balmy dusk sun, polishing off the shrimp and vegetable pot stickers, ocean in clear, glistening view, I’m not so sure.  It’s rare to have a restaurant where the view is as inviting as the cuisine; the cuisine as inventive as the Chef’s reputation deems it should be, the service is on par with both.  I applaud all that went into the Zengo uprising.  The gobsmacking location.  The convivial collection of people so happy to be working there.  The Chef whose unrelenting creativity gave rise and reason for all these things to collectively flourish.

And nothing provides the retail nightcap like the ability to hit Free People, Tiffany, and All Saints before returning to your car. Santa Monica has always known how to sell it.  Richard Sandoval’s Zengo is the latest in the luxe living line-up to fuse some mighty fine flavour into what was already a foundation of very good taste.

Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles

Zengo on Urbanspoon

Reviewer's Rating
Cuisine Asian
Need to book Advisable
Clientele Locals: couples, friends, families & groups
Restaurant good for Couples, Bar scene, Large groups, Meeting up with friends, Outdoor seating
Cost per head Medium
Dress Code Casual
Dining Options Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Additional Ambience Information

The expanse of the restaurant is remarkable, but the terrace is not to be missed.

Additional Price Comments

Definitely take advantage of happy hour specials. They make an already good deal, great with small plates from $5 and cocktails from $6. Bottomless Brunch from $35 per person.

Last updated on 24-01-2014

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