Tag Archive | Japan

Zengo Previews Its New Test Kitchen Menu for “Japan to Mexico”

Zengo Interior
Zengo Serves Gorgeous Food in a Gorgeous Setting (Photos By Gail, Cocktail Photos Courtesy of Burke Communications)

Foodie Fans of The Worley Gig know that one of our very favorite dining destinations is the Asian-Latin fusion restaurant, Zengo, conveniently located adjacent to Grand Central Station. While the menu is consistently delicious, Zengo is dedicated to continually changing things up. And in this case, change is good!

Every few months, Chef Richard Sandoval and his culinary team at Zengo research and develop new recipes featuring the cuisine and spirits of one Latin and one Asian country. The result is a menu of specialty plates and cocktails that showcase the flavors and techniques from each region. The featured new dishes are marked with a special “TK” symbol on the menu, noting that they are exclusive and available for a limited time. The current “Test Kitchen” menu, unveiled at Zengo in January, is dubbed “Japan to Mexico,” for which Chef Sandoval drew inspiration from the rich and flavorful street foods of Japan and Mexico to create the new Test Kitchen menu.

Recently we were invited to enjoy a Tasting of the Japan to Mexico Test Kitchen Menu and were wowed once again by the Chef’s finely honed skill at blending and accenting the flavors of these two distinct cuisines. Here’s a review of what we ate:

Calamansi Old-Fashioned

It’s always fun to start off a meal with a potent and refreshing cocktail and Zengo features two new ones for Japan to Mexico. The Calamansi Old-Fashioned is made with Japanese whiskey, fresh Calamansi juice (similar to Orange Juice) and Agave Bitters. Surprisingly, this tastes like a fresh Blood Orange cocktail with no overpowering Whiskey taste and not one hint of bitterness. Delicious!

Shiro Margarita

Also on the cocktail menus is the Shiro Margarita blending Nigori Saki with 100% Agave Blanco Tequila, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and house-made sour mix. The Shiro Margarita is light and tart and will brighten the taste of whatever you are eating. These go down very smooth!

Octopus Carpaccio

Next up on our selection of TK small plates was the outstanding Octopus Aguachile Tiradito: an unbelievably tender Octopus carpaccio flavored with Ginger Green Chile broth and White Soy, tossed with crisp Asian Pear and luscious, ripe Avocado and garnished with sprinkling of Nori and Sesame Seeds. This was the most delicious and visually appealing presentation of Octopus I have yet tried — and that includes the Octopus and Chickpea Salad at MP Taverna, which is just insane.

Shrimp Tempura Rolls

Zengo is famous for its excellent sushi and vegetarian maki rolls and they’ve come up with another excellent offering in the Achiote Shrimp Tempura Roll – a Tempura Fried Shrimp with Avocado, Jicama Chile Lemon, Charred Scallion and dressed with a light Chile Toreado Aioli. I enjoyed dipping pieces of this roll in the dressing from the Octopus dish!

Pork Belly Sliders

Elevating Mexican Street Food are the Terikayi Pork Belly Gorditas “Sliders” – Fried Pork Belly with a sweet Teriyaki glaze, nested on a crispy Masa cake “Bun” with Oaxaca cheese, Guacamole, Caramelized Pineapple and Pickled Chiles for just a little bit of heat. If you’re a Bacon fan who’s looking to try something new and different, you’ll want to give this a try.

Lamb Shank

In the realm of hearty entrees, Zengo adds the Kabayaki Glazed Lamb Shank Barbacoa – fork-tender lamb marinated in a Ginger, Chiles and Tamarind glaze, served atop a bed of fragrant Arroz Verde and garnished with tender-crisp Pickled Carrots. The bones in this look intimidating, but the meat literally just falls away as soon as you prod it a bit with your fork. I loved the contrast of textures and flavors in this delightful dish.

Avocado Panna Cotta

And last but not least we sampled an unusual take on a traditional dessert, the Avocado Panna Cotta – Fresh Avocado Custard, served with tangy-sweet Tropical Fruit Salad and garnished an added crunch of Chocolate Cookie Crumbs. The mildly sweet true-Avocado taste of the Panna Cotta gets a kick from the chopped fruit and syrup accompaniment and the unexpected crunch of the cookie morsels add a fun texture to this not-overly-sweet ending to a fine meal.

Please note that all food photos in this post are representative of a group tasting presentation and expect the dish may look somewhat different when ordered for just one person.

Zengo is located at 622 Third Avenue (at the corner of 40th Street). Dinner is served Monday through Saturday from 5:00 PM onward. Lunch is served Monday – Friday from 11:30 AM -2:30 PM. For reservations, please call 212-808-8110 or visit their website at This Link. The Mexico-Japan menu is featured through March 31st, 2013 at all Zengo locations including New York City, Denver, Santa Monica and Washington D.C.

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Haroshi's Virtual Reality at Jonathan LeVine Gallery

Haroshi Skateboarding Cat

Japanese artist Haroshi has returned to the Jonathan LeVine Gallery for a new exhibit called Virtual Reality, the second solo show of his skateboard deck sculptures at the gallery in two years.

Haroshi Skateboard Wall

It is kind of hilarious that Haroshi created a wall of skateboard decks made from reused old skateboard decks, but it’s a perfect way to show off his preferred medium in an extremely literal fashion. All of Haroshi’s sculptures are meticulously crafted from old skateboards and no additional color is added to the wood. What an amazing way to upcycle!

Haroshi Sphere
Smiley Faced Sphere Made From Bits of Skateboard Decks

At the exhibit’s opening reception last week, the gallery was just packed with Haroshi’s avid fans, many carrying their own skateboards. It was quite an enthusiastic scene! It is worth noting that the artist is very cool to his fans and I encourage you to come out, even in this cold winter weather, and see this fun show while it’s still up.

Haroshi Skull
Skateboard Deck Skull

Virtual Reality by Haroshi runs through February 9, 2013 at the Jonathan Levine Gallery, located at 529 West 20th Street, 9th Floor (West of 10th Avenue) in New York. Gallery Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 AM to 6 PM.

Haroshi Mouse Sculpture

Must See Art: Mr. at Lehmann Maupin Gallery

Central Room Hoard

If you enjoy the TV show Hoarders and the works of pop artist Takashi Murakami, then the current exhibit by Japanese artist Mr. at Lehmann Maupin Gallery is your wet dream. Metamorphosis: Give Me Your Wings fills Lehman Maupin’s cavernous space on West 26th Street with stacks and piles and mountains of personal objects of every imaginable description: from clothing to magazines to computer monitors, all active with videos of the artist.

Large Manga Painting

Also included in the exhibit are large-scale Manga paintings, which fit into the school of the Superflat, a movement/philosophy coined by Murakami to identify “various flattened forms in Japanese graphic art, animation, pop culture and fine arts, as well as the shallow emptiness of Japanese consumer culture.”

Pink Lounge Chair on Hoard

Walking through the gallery, Geoffrey and I were reminded very much of Chinese artist Song Dong’s Waste Not installation that we saw at the Museum of Modern Art a couple of years ago. It goes without saying, of course, that Mr.’s current work is also a reaction/response to what has been going on in Japan since the devastating natural disasters of 2011. I recommend this exhibit for all audiences.

Mr Photo of the Artist
Photo of The Artist

Metamorphosis: Give Me Your Wings by Mr. will be on Exhibit Through October 20th, 2012 at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, Located at 540 West 26th Street, Street Level, New York City. Gallery Hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and Mondays by appointment.

Dresser Drawers

Gallery Crowd By Central Room Hoard
Art Fans Enjoy Mr.’s Metamorphosis at Lehman Maupin Gallery

Heart Shaped Balloons Cluster

McDonalds Cheese Katsu Burger

Tonkatsu Burger
Image Source

The Katsu Burger from McDonalds in Japan contains a fried pork cutlet stuffed with cheese, topped with cabbage and sweet and sour sauce. It looks like it has mayonaise on it, too. I want to eat it.

Yayoi Kusama Retrospective at The Whitney Museum

Yayoi Kusama Whitney Card

Well known for her use of dense patterns of polka dots and nets, as well as her intense, large-scale environments, Japanese multimedia artist Yayoi Kusama’s widely varied works include painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance and immersive installation. Born in Japan in 1929, Kusama came to the United States in 1957 and quickly found herself at the epicenter of the New York avant-garde. After achieving fame through groundbreaking exhibitions and art “happenings,” she returned to her native country in 1973 and is now one of Japan’s most prominent contemporary artists. This retrospective features works spanning Kusama’s career.

Yayoi Kusama Fireflies on The Water

As part of the retrospective, Kusama’s Fireflies on the Water, which takes place within a mirrored installation, is being shown in the Museum’s Lobby Gallery. Time Stamped Tickets are required to view Fireflies on the Water and can only be reserved on the day of your visit at the admission desk. We were told that these tickets are usually “Sold Out” within the first 2 hours of daily operation, so you’d better get there early (i.e. when the museum opens) if you want to see it! There was also a line outside the museum and up the block, which we were able to usurp thanks to our Corporate Membership! Happiness!

Note that photography is not permitted in the galleries, so the two photos below were the only ones I was able to snap. Trust me though, much like the late great Louise Bourgeois, Kusama’s work is amazingly playful and diverse.

Kusama Red Polka Dot Beach Balls Installation at Whitney Museum
Kusama’s Signature Polka Dot Beach Balls installation Above The Whitney Museum Restaurant

The Yayoi Kusama Retrospective Runs Through September 30th, 2012. Fireflies on the Water Runs Through October 28, 2012. The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, New York, NY 10021. For General Information Phone (212)570-3600.Kusama Red Polka Dot Beach Balls Installation at Whitney Museum Close Up