Paris Restaurants: ZenZoo
Wed 20 Feb 2013
13, rue Chabanais, in the 2nd Arrondissement. 01 42 96 27 28.
Mon–Sat, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; closed Sun.
Having reached my quota of French food from Paris Paris restaurants for the week, I turned to ZenZoo to reintroduce some balance into my recent overload on steak frites and cuisse de canard. Humbly wedged into the jumble of sushi and lamen (a.k.a ramen) restaurants just east of the Pyramides metro stop, this Taiwanese gem does anything but command a passerby’s attention. In fact, I discovered the place by pure coincidence about a year ago. Ever since, ZenZoo has become a sort of personal canteen offering reliably delicious food with consistently quick and pleasant service.
A lively scent and chattering Franco-Asian clientele welcomed us as we arrived. Lovely latticework windows, a matching mahogany and a large painting embellish the simple interior. Overwhelmed by the novel-length menus often slapped on the table, I find ZenZoo’s limited selection of five dishes, accompanied by two sides (14 euros) and a dessert (17 euros), very manageable and reassuring—restaurants with miles of selection often bolster their fare with precooked dishes to save money and time. The hallmark beverages, a vast selection of bubble teas, trump the scant wine list—two Bordeaux and a Sylvaner.
Our food arrived promptly (if not synchronously) in porcelain dishes neatly arranged on a large, wooden tray—almost too cute to eat. My soupe spéciale consisted of some tender pieces of beef on a nest of thick noodles and bok choy happily bobbing in light broth. The orange-glazed pork was pleasantly crispy, and the tangy orange flavor balanced the concentrated, sweet glaze. The shrimp in red sauce tasted a little soggier than I recalled, but the sauce was just as light and tasty as usual.
The night’s sides consisted of tofu in a spicy fish sauce served with tiny black beans, as well as a salad composed of carrots, cucumber, daikon and pineapple. While I did not care for the vapid salad, the tofu’s spicy, complex flavors and smooth texture made for a fun accessory to an already ample meal. Skeptical about the wine, we ordered three glasses of Sylvaner, which paired well with the pork and shrimp dishes while having a nice, neutralizing effect on my salty soup.
I attempted to order a piece of the green-tea-and-red-bean cake. Unfortunately, the only remaining dessert was the panna cotta. Avidly against ordering dishes that I can easily prepare at home, I settled on finishing my maccha bubble tea, which proved rich enough to satisfy my postmeal sugar craving.
At 20 euros a person, the check was reasonable for any standards. As foreseen, we were utterly satisfied.
You don’t need to overdose on French food to plan a visit to ZenZoo. In a city where premade dishes frequently infest affordable cuisine, real value just can’t be sneezed at. Despite the lack of culinary creativity (the menu is basically stagnant), ZenZoo offers a solid option for a quality meal that pleases time and again. I know I’ll be back very soon, and I highly suggest that anyone who’s been craving a delicious Asian meal swing by for a taste.
In a nutshell: Guaranteed value, fresh food, and fast service—minus the hefty price tag
Price check: Main dish and two sides, 14 euros; main dish, side and dessert, 17 euros; bubble tea 4–5 euros.
If you like the sound of ZenZoo, you might also like Kambodgia. Read the review.
15, rue de Bassano, in the 16th Arrondissement. 01 47 20 03 50.
Mon–Fri, lunch and dinner; Sat, dinner only.
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