Forget Happy Hour, celebrate the balance of work and play during Fung Shui Hour at Denver’s Zengo Restaurant.
The life balancing act is made a little easier Mondays through Thursdays, 5 to 7pm, with special drinks and snacks at great prices. The refreshing and delicious cucumber mojito certainly makes me feel better. There’s also a pineapple mojito, traditional capirinhas and margaritas, a green tea martini and the brilliantly colored, sinus-clearing Bombay Blossom made from gin, dried hibiscus, habanero pepper, blood orange juice and lime.
The restaurant, one of a dozen Mexican-influenced eateries established by chef Richard Sandoval (Maya in New York, San Francisco and Dubai; Isla in Las Vegas) is one of the great after-work spots Denver’s vibrant Riverfront Park area of downtown.
Zengo means “give and take” in Japanese and reflects Sandoval’s giving a little and taking a little from both Latin and Asian cuisines. Ceviche and sushi share a menu that’s fairly evenly split between Mexican-influenced dishes and those from much farther east. Many dishes inventively combine the two. Carnitas Rice Noodles mixes the flavorful Mexican pork with Asian rice noodles, mushrooms, cashews and hot & sour sauce. Miso Soup gets a makeover with a dose of chipotle pepper and truffle. Chipotle makes another appearance in the fabulous – and fabulously named – Angry Zengo rolls: spicy yellow fin tuna, avocado, sesame-chipotle rouille and wasabi. Won Ton Tacos combine charred ahi tuna, sushi rice, pickled ginger and mango salsa in won ton wrappers folded to resemble mini tacos.
The fun at Zengo, whether in the softly lit bar, the comfortable main dining room or the brightly colored private rooms, is all about sharing. Every dish is designed to easily be shared around a table. On a recent snowy evening four of us had chopsticks and forks clattering as we sampled our way through a coconut, papaya, vanilla and black pepper-seasoned mahi mahi ceviche, several sushi rolls, lobster pot stickers, tacos, noodles and more.
Zengo offers a wide variety of vegetarian dishes and a surprisingly long list of wheat-free options for those on restricted diets. The beer list leans toward Mexican and Asian labels, as expected. Wines available by the glass include a few surprises such as a sparkling wine from New Mexico. The tequila listings take up two menu pages and include three different tasting flights.
Zengo is located at 1610 Little Raven Street in downtown Denver. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 720.904.0965.