Restaurant Review: Modern Asian Cuisine at House Of Zen!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

When it comes to dining out my favourite cuisine by far has to be Asian! Ever since I sampled my first Asian meal (I was around 5yrs old at the time I think) I've been totally hooked! These days I like to think that my tastes have matured over the years, and thankfully there are some amazing Asian restaurants in Belfast, one of my absolute favourites being House of Zen at St Anne's Square, Belfast

From the moment I walk in I always feel right at home, Front of House Manager Grainne and her team always make me feel so welcome and their level of service is surpassed only by the quality of their food and cocktails!

While House of Zen has remained a popular eaterie since it's opening in 2012, Grainne and her team have been in consulation with customers over the past six months to refine and expand on their existing menu. The result of this has been a complete revamp of the menu, retaining their popular signature dishes (such as my personal favourite, the Salt and Chilli Chicken) whilst introducing new and innovative dishes for us to enjoy!

When myself and the ever fabulous Jeff from Belfast Times had the opportunity to sample the new menu we couldn't wait to catch up for lots of banter and fun over food and cocktails!

Cocktail wise I decided to stick House of Zen's delicious varieties of Martini's! Of course I do love my signature French Martini but this time I opted for something a little different to start the evening with, a Raspberry and Mint version! Trust me, this cocktail tastes every bit as good as it looks!

First off we were treated to a selection of starters in the form of scallop pork shumai, crab dumplings and vegetarian guatie! The scallop pork shumai were my personal favourite, with the suculant scallops working perfectly with the pork creating a true "melt in the mouth" moment! The crab dumplings added a delicious hot kick whilst the vegetarian guatie reminded both Jeff and I that vegetarian food can be just as tasty as their meat counterparts!

Next up was the prawn toasts.....well I say prawn toasts but they were supreme king prawn toasts consisting of a whole king prawn on each slice! For a fish lover like myself I was in my element, juicy and tasty, I don't think I can ever bring myself to eat a standard prawn toast again!

For those diners who aren't fish lovers there are the deep fried crispy shredded beef strips (with kumquat favour) to enjoy! Even though I'm not a regular beef eater, I found them to be delicious as the crispy texture of the strips worked beautifully with the fruity kumquat kick, creating a perfect balance of flavours!

At this point it was cocktail time again and I found a refreshing watermelon martini cocktail to be the perfect palette cleanser as we moved onto our main dishes!

Next we had the pleasure of trying something truly special, tooth fish! Now I have to confess I had never heard of tooth fish before, but it is a rare delicacy, found in some of the world's best restaurants and available exclusively in N. Ireland at House of Zen! Tooth fish has an incredible delicate and soft texture, unlike anything I have ever tasted before, which literally melts in the mouth! This is perfectly complimented by a delicious champagne butter sauce that brings out the richness of flavours from the pan fried tooth fish perfectly!

We then tried a sample selection of three other main dishes: the kumquat chicken, deep fried sliced monkfish tail with sweet and sour pomegranate tang yang sauce and wok-fried diced duck with ‘Kung Po’ style! The kumquat chicken was a sweet and tasty chicken dish, while the monk fish tail was the best sweet and sour dish I've had in a very long time! It's sweet and sour pomegranate tang yang sauce was a fresh take on the traditional sweet and sour flavours we all know and love so well in Asian cuisine! Last but by no means least was the wok-fried duck Kung Po style. A delicious mix of tender duck and crispy vegetables, the Kung Po sauce is sweet and tangy without being overpowering, perfect for those of us who like a tangy kick without the heat of a very spicy sauce!

Now at this stage I thought I would have no more room for any more food, but us girls do love our chocolate and I couldn't resist in indulging in House of Zen's signature chocolate sauce for dessert! (ok there was fruit too, but hey we all know the star of the show will always be the chocolate!). Lastly I finished off the evening with my last cocktail of the night, a lychee martini that had just the right amount of sweetness to perfectly compliment our dessert!

There was nothing I tried from the new menu that I didn't love and I would be more than happy to order any of the items I had the pleasure of sampling! Innovative in it's combination of flavours, whilst still staying true to it's Asian roots, House of Zen's new menu combines locally sourced ingredients that successfully showcases modern Asian cuisine at it's very best!

I look forward to my next visit and must congratulate everyone at House of Zen on a wonderful new menu! A massive thank you to Grainne for the invitation to review the new menu and I look forward to visiting House of Zen again soon!

House of Zen.
3  St Anne's Square,
Cathedral Quarter,

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