Photo Credit: Tina Wong, Wandering Eater
Peru and Japan have had deep cultural ties since the late 1800s, when waves of Japanese immigrants began arriving in Peru for the first time. Today, individuals of Japanese heritage are the largest minority group in the country. With this history in mind, then, it is natural that Peruvian-Japanese came to mind when Zengo wanted to create a special fusion menu.
Available for the month of October, the “Taste of Lima-Tokyo” menu is the first in a series of menus that take Zengo’s overall Latin-Asian fusion concept and narrow it down to focus on specific locations on those two continents and bring out the connections and contrasts between them, while infusing it all with a modern, cosmopolitan taste. The special menu consists of a collection of small plates and cocktails.
Last week, Zengo hosted a tasting for members of the media and food bloggers, where we were offered the opportunity to sample all the items off the food and drink menus and hear from the chef and bar director about their inspirations. Chief among them, the traditional grape brandy native to Peru, Pisco.
Our outing to Zengo for restaurant week was perfect in every way. Zengo deserves much of the credit, obviously, but it helped to have a good sized group of people – five – who were all willing and thrilled to share their food. I think Frank Bruni’s article about how deranged his dining companions have been over the years says less about the world at large – as he alleges – and more about the caliber of his friends. Certainly none of the attitudes he describes were at play at our table, as nothing failed to get passed around and shared and nobody was shy about consuming their fair share.
My darling wife and I arrived ahead of both our dining companions and our reservation so we spent a little quality time in the bar. I’m a boring beer drinker but my dearest had the cucumber mojito, which she declared excellent. The bartender claims their mango mojito is also superb, but the conversation happened because of the look of horror on our faces when he made a few in front of them. No doubt that mass of pink goo he dropped in on top of the ice tastes like delicious mango mint goodness once it’s dissolved into the drink, but, like sausage, this is something you should not watch being made if you expect to enjoy it.
I comment on how polite and efficient the host staff was in seating us only because it was the beginning of a trend. I see a lot of concern from people about the quality of service during restaurant week but if any of the staff at Zengo thought we were unworthy of their best effort than I can only imagine what it’s like there during ‘normal’ service. I was tempted to see if was even possible for me to drain my water glass below the halfway mark before someone came around but I feared I’d rupture something.