There’s something about a makeover that gets everyone excited. Some words that may come to mind when a prospect of renovation is imminent: Fresh! Happening! Amazeballs! It’s like on Beauty and the Geek (yes, a small guilty pleasure of mine) when the Geeks are revealed to their Beauties as “new and improved” but are still shy and nerdy on the inside. Yes, that good-looking beardless man (because apparently beauties dislike scraggly beards) still collects insect specimens for recreation. Mostly like said “madeover” Geeks but not really anything like it at all, Zen Saki has undergone a transformation. The space looks absolutely stunning, if I may say so, while the heart of the institution has not changed: the food remains true to its delicious self and maintains the price!
My sister and I were out again looking for a place to stay warm and fill our bellies with delicious food, and I thought of Zen Saki as I was curious to see what it was like with its new fit-outs; plus, the most important, I was looking for somewhere quick and cheap (I’m trying to save up for a vacation you see). Situated on Barrack St alongside a foray of Asian eateries, it is faced with a lot of stiff competition. So how do you compete with more than five Japanese restaurants within a five minute walk from you? You revamp! Upon entering, I was stunned to see that the restaurant had completely changed. Apart from the addition of a sushi train, the light panels, the wooden fit-outs and, most spectacularly, the lights were definitely a treat for the eyes as we were met with this chic modern space.
The service was wonderful. The waitress greeted us at the door and we were quickly seated at the counter next to the sushi train. After watching them pass my by, I decided to stick with the sushi train while my sister ordered from the à-la-carte menu.
If you look in their sushi menu, Zen Saki has a “Fusion” option in which they had reinvented classic Japanese sushi rolls and I found this to be very intriguing. With more components, these rolls looked to be more complex than the more traditional ones. And they tasted so good as well! My three sushi dishes were: crabstick roll, scallop and caviar on rice and salmon and prawn roll. The hero of the three was definitely the scallop one; I suggest that you try pile as many of the ingredients into the same mouthful as possible because it was intended that way and it tastes amazing. All the ingredients seemed fresh; with the seafood, there was very little seasoning so as to leave the spotlight on the star of the dish. The sushi rice was very light and fluffy but still sticky enough to keep the roll together.
My sister felt like a rice dish and so ordered the Chicken Teriyaki, a classic. With teriyaki anything, it’s difficult to tell how good it is because most teriyaki sauces taste very similar; however, I can still report that it was delicious: the soft juicy chicken that melts in your mouth.
Sometimes I feel like green tea anything on the menu is a winner because everyone knows what it is, definitely more so than something like black sesame (which in its ice-cream form is something to rave on about but may be a little too exotic). In saying this, I was very eager to try the green tea tiramisu for dessert. But, like always, I was a tad disappointed; probably because I was expecting too much again. That being said, anyone who is a fan of green tea would probably enjoy it; it still had the very distinct flavour we all know and love while avoiding an unpleasant bitterness, must be the copious amount of sugar involved.
En conclusion, Zen Saki is definitely a winner in my books. My sister and I went just before the lunch menu closed so the cost was a bit less than that for the dinner menu (Chicken Teriyaki for $9!) but I strongly recommend this place for anyone who was a regular at the old Zen Saki because everything tastes just as good and costs just as much (minus the grubbiness and rocking tables).