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Monday, July 9, 2012

ZEN Cucina Japanese Restaurant - Central World, Bangkok

ZEN Cucina @ Central World (Premium Japanese Restaurant)

Overall Score  8/10
Taste   4/5
Ambiance  4/5
Service  3/5
Value   2.5/5

Zen Cucina Contemporary Japanese Cuisine on BumRes.com

Zen Cucina (Cucina basically means Cuisine in Italian) is an upscale Japanese restaurant by Zen.  Its quality is comparable to Premium Japanese restaurants in Bangkok.  Precise location is the 3rd floor at Central World, next to the Starbucks.  Interior design is clean and simple, similar to the mainstream Zen but the different is the menu.  Selection is vast and the price is much higher than regular Zen. 

The reason I went to this restaurant was the 10% discount promotion, celebrating the reopening after the vandalism resulted from the political conflicts.  Actually I was supposed to get 20% discount with the KTC credit card but the card terminal had problems.  I brought four friends with me and I must admit that I didn’t know it was going to be so expensive.  I read a review on the internet.  Somebody had about four dishes with Otoro and other fine fish picks, the total was only 1,600 baht.  It must be at lunch time.  Well – after taking time to decide, we finally ordered a few dishes. 

First one was the Unagi Nigiri, which tasted good to a normal standard but not that remarkable.  Second dish was a Tuna salad that was truly amazing.  Presented in the form of Roll and each one had distinctive flavors.  All were delicious; it was the dressing that made the dish so good.  Third one was the Sushi Hotate and Unagi.  Both were a la carte but they were just so so.  Premium Sushi restaurants of the same grade in Thonglor area can do it much better.  


Forth was the Salmon skin sushi.  Sauce atop the sushi was so great tasting; I really liked it.  Zen Cucina knows how to make their sauces flavorsome.  Next three dishes were all Chilean Sea Bass or Snow fish; Salt grilled, Soy grilled, and Miso grilled.  All of them were heavenly delectable, priced lower than average, I highly recommend them to you all. 

Eighth dish was also made with Snow Fish – a Hot Pot.  Its unique presentation was playful; the pot was made with paper (like the Tokyo Grill, I believe).  Limited amount of broth became an issue for us but luckily the flavorful fresh Snow Fish saved the day.  

Ninth dish was the Dragon roll, which was a maki roll with Shrimp Tempura, Unagi, and avocado.  Arranged to a whining Dragon (or Catepillar, so much difference for such a metaphor), its taste was as charming as the presentation.  Tenth dish was the Cod Fish Pasta – simply enjoyable with an average standard, nothing outstanding about it.

Last but not least, supposed to be the highlight of our premium sushi dinner at Zen Cucina.  But, it was so disappointing to get the mediocre impression.  One reason was that many selections were out that day.  They didn’t have Uni, Salmon, and Saba.  The replacement was Matsusaka (first time for me), Hamachi (not so fond of), and Akami (I like less than Saba).  The cut size at Zen Cucina is smaller than Premium Sushi Shop of Thonglor (For Nigiri, the fish almost cover the rice completely).  Between the freshness of the fish and the Sushi prep skills – I am not sure what this place lacks of, but I can resolutely tell you that I would be more or less impressed with the quality served at the shops in Thonglor area.  However, for the Zen Cucina, I felt reluctant to say that I liked their offerings.   

Total damage at Zen Cucina was about 7,200 baht, which considered too expensive for sushi at this level of quality.  Their fusion choices were delicious, I admit.  And the price was reasonable.  Personally, I would go back there for what they could do well.  But, I wouldn’t order the Nigiri.  

- When we were leaving, the place was almost full of customers. 
- For a premium grade restaurant like this, I should get some complimentary snacks.  For example, Honmono and Megendai serve Japanese cucumber.  Zen Cucina had nothing for us. 
- Servers didn’t come to check on us enough.  They only came to take the order and to serve the food.  For other requests, we had to holler from distance. 

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