If you love Japanese cuisine then you know how it feels when you finally find your favourite Japanese restaurant. The pillows of rice used for nigiri sushi become pedestals which showcase fresh-from-the-sea slices of salmon, sea bass, and tuna, while the injection of colour which bright orange crab roe adds to soft-shell crab maki is a feast for your eyes.
This is how I feel about Zenzo, located in the Dutch town of Voorburg.
Even though the rational part of me knows there are limits when it comes to how much I can eat, the irrational, Japanese cuisine-loving part of me wants to order everything on Zenzo’s menu. So I made a deal with myself: I can order everything on the menu, just not at once, and that means I need to keep coming back for more.
I’m somewhere in the middle of my quest, but what is it about Zenzo that makes me oh-so willing to soldier on?
From the moment you walk in the door there is an overwhelming feeling of relaxation. The pale sea-coloured walls are complimented by dainty orchids and dark mahogany tables. The low, subtle lighting only enhances the feeling of harmony.
On my latest visit when, as usual, I was overwhelmed with choices, my dining companion and I finally settled on Zenzo’s five course menu. Offering everything from sashimi and nigiri sushi to teppanyaki, it unveils the highlights of an already star-studded menu.
The servers at Zenzo glide silently between the kitchen and the dining room and first brought us a small amuse-bouche of two salads: tuna salad and seaweed salad. This was followed by our first course of sashimi and nigiri sushi, served both classically and aburi-style – seared lightly and infused with a savoury sauce, and avocado maki. The fish was so fresh and delicate that it melted in my mouth but what really made my heart race was when, in the low light, I mistook the wasabi for a piece of avocado and popped it all into my mouth.
Seafood miso soup followed, and then came what may have been my favourite part of the meal: one small but exquisitely flavoured lamb chop beside a creamy marriage of open-flame grilled scallops, king crab, and salmon, served in a scallop shell. It was perfection.
It is your tastebuds which will be exploding.
In preparation for our final course we cooled off with kani sarada, a fresh salad made of king crab, iceberg lettuce, fish roe, and Japanese mayonnaise. And then we were ready for our usuyaki. Thin-sliced grilled tenderloin flavoured with garlic and wrapped around enoki mushrooms capped off yet another evening in my personal quest to order everything on Zenzo’s menu.
As we savoured the last bites, we enjoyed the night-time view of Voorburg’s Oude Kerk (Old Church), a 13th century gothic church situated in the old town centre between the Herenstraat and the Parkweg. One of the more famous faithful who regularly attended the church was Princess Marianne, in the mid-1850s. She was the daughter of King Willem I, the first king of the Netherlands.
From her own pew in the church, the Marianne Pew, she enjoyed the resonating sounds of the organ but when she found it to be out of tune, she generously purchased and donated a new one to the church. To this day, visitors to the Oude Kerk can still listen to the organ of the princess.
Thankfully, the music inside Zenzo is more muted. It is your tastebuds which will be exploding.
Address: Parkweg 89, 2271 AG, Voorburg, the Netherlands
Telephone: +31 (0)70 386 9335
Opening Times: Every day from 5pm to 10.30pm. Takeaway is available from 4pm to 10.30pm and if you pick it up before 7pm, you get a 10% discount on your order.