Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Sep 19th, 2013

Richard Sandoval’s Zengo brings Latin/Asian cuisine to Santa Monica

Zengo dining roomZengo is a creation of celebrity chef Richard Sandoval in Santa Monica Place and brings together his fusion style of Latin/Asian cuisine under young 26-year old chef Richard Castro. I believe that Sandoval now has about fourteen restaurants in his expanding empire, and he visits Zengo about once a month to see that everything is being done according to his instructions.

It is an impressive space if somewhat corporate in feel, with a large outdoor patio area which unfortunately can be a bit dark when nighttime arrives, and the chairs are also a little too low for the dining tables, so luckily cushions were on hand. Despite this minor criticism, Zengo warrants a visit mainly because of the dedication and fairly meticulous preparation Castro brings to his cooking.

I admit that I would like to have tried more of the purely Asian items on the menu because the Chicharon-Plantain Mofongo Shumai were excellent, featuring ground pork with black vinegar and XO sauce. I also tried the Adobo Sweet ‘N Sour BBQ Pork Ribs with bacon, jack cheese and chayote slaw.

Star of the night was the Whole Crispy Fried Fish, even though it was too dark to see what we were actually eating. Later information provided the fact that it came with a malanga puree, black bean vinaigrette and a watercress salad. I have forgotten details of all the preparation by chef Castro of the Hong Kong Half Roast Chicken but it was either marinated or immersed in Shaoxing Wine and served with Chinese Broccoli and Shaoxing Tomatoes. There are many other menu items that certainly look appealing, and if they are prepared in the same manner, then you will not leave here wanting.

Cocktails are an important part of the mix at Zengo, and I got the chance to try three different ones, and luckily none of them were overpowering. Gingered Bourbon was probably the best of the three and was mixed with Domain Canton ginger liqueur, lemon juice and simple syrup. I have had a fair amount of sake lately, and the Zengo version came with lychee puree to make a drink known as Lychee Bellini, although the Sake must be sparkling (Zipang). The Strawberry Lemon Mojito used Castillo Rum and added was mint, muddled lemon, agave and a splash of soda.

395 Santa Monica Place
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 899-1000

Lunch: Monday-Friday 11.30-4 pm
Dinner : 4pm-close
Bottomless Brunch-Sunday $35
Mall Parking

About the Author

- Michael Hepworth is a food, spirits and travel writer who contributes to magazines, newspapers and magazines in Los Angeles, Dubai, London and Mumbai.

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Richard Sandoval’s Zengo brings Latin/Asian cuisine to Santa Monica