Zentan is a modern Asian restaurant located in a Kimpton Hotel at Thomas Circle on 14th Street in DC. Hong Kong-born consulting chef, Susur Lee, who has appeared on Top Chef Masters and Iron Chef America, helped to establish the menu while Jerry Zheng executes on the sushi side.
When we arrived on a Monday night, there were still plenty of tables open. The dark, romantic dining room with big wooden tables and a candlelit chandelier contrasted nicely with the brighly lit sushi bar.
We started with drinks. I had the delightfully spicy Birds of a Feather made with Hangar One Buddha Hand vodka, chili, lemon, and ginger beer. It was crisp and spicy at the same time.
There were a few vegan items on the menu -- enough to satisfy us. After considering the Singapore Slaw, we decided against it and instead decided to start with edamame with five-spice salt and smoked sea salt. We also placed our orders for dinner as well.
The service left much to be desired as our waitress was slow and not very attentive. We were also pretty disappointed when our meals arrived before the appetizer.
That said, the rolls we ordered were delicious. We ordered the Buddhist Delight and Vegan rolls. Yes, one was actually called "vegan." Major points for that one. And it was the Vegan one we liked most. The Vegan roll had savory sweet potato and portobello mushrooms wrapped in yuba (tofu) skins topped with crispy taro root and dressed with an avocado dressing. It was absolutely perfect.
The Buddhist Delight also had tofu skins, but this time they were marinated and put inside the roll along with asparagus, then wrapped in rice, topped with spinach and dressed with a sesame miso dressing. It was also very good.
By the time the edamame finally arrived, we asked if we could just order another Buddhist Delight instead. Thankfully, our server obliged.
At the end of the meal, I had wished we had tried a few other items, but I suppose we could come back any time. They also have a stir-fried squash and tofu dish that sounded interesting. Surprisingly, the meal wasn't really that expensive since we just got the rolls that were priced at $9 and $12 each. I only wish the service had been better. I'd still come back here for the rolls though. There aren't a lot of places to get inventive vegan sushi rolls in this city and now this is yet another option.