Saturday, December 12, 2009

Zen Restaurant 12-09-2009

Location: 31 St. Marks Pl.
Time: 6:30pm
People: RB and myself

Feelings: Whenever I go to Jas Mart for my weekly Japanese supplies, I always pass by this restaurant with a big banner that says "ramen" in Japanese. But it never occurred for me to try their ramen since I almost never try restaurants that serve both sushi and other Japanese noodle dishes along with some drink special of sake bombs. I consider those American Japanese, and usually all they serve is major disappointments. But after reading their menu with variety of ramen, curry, udon and donburi dishes, I decided to give it a try, ignoring flashy "50% off sushi everyday" signs everywhere.

It turns out most of the customers, all quite young, were there for the 50% off sushi. While nice Japanese waitstaff gave us attentive service at this spacious spot, I felt a bit queasy from their dirty menus and floor. I love the atomosphere of hall-in-the-wall dirty ramen shops, but this place just seemed like a school cafeteria.

You might think with their cafeteria ambiance with 50% off sushi, everything else must be very reasonable, but our gyoza was $4.25, my hiyashi chuka and RB's tonkotsu ramen were $8-$9. Not really cheap. At this point, I realized that you come to this place for cheap, good sushi, not for other Japanese comfort dishes.

The gyoza was extremely greasy and had barely any filling inside. My hiyashi chuka was not too bad, but it was too soupy, which made the vegetables soggy. Somehow it had very little noodles, so I had to steal some noodles from RB's dish. RB's tonkotsu ramen was extremely meaty, and it had some strange chunks of meat that resembled chopped Twix pieces. It was still voluminous and satisfying.

For the price, you can get much better quality noodles at this St. Marks' ramen village area. But Zen is a perfect place for people, especially students, who seek a large quantity of good, reasonable American sushi. After 10pm, their drinks are 50% off too--I am certain the cheap sushi and beer deal attract many customers, but it is sadly not for a "quality, not quantity" gal who doesn't enjoy American style sushi or alcohol. But you guys enjoy this great deal!

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