Hot Texas summer nights usually create a lack of interest in food that is anywhere near warm and I certainly do not want to start up any of the appliances in my own kitchen. Salad? Blech….you all know my feelings on a life of salad. I know I’m not the only veggie that gets sick of salad. I’d probably just have forgone eating at all, except for the fact that my body would revolt and there are some really amazing summer food options in Dallas.
In order to kill two birds with one stone, I wandered down to Bishop Arts District for sushi and people watching (one of my favorite pastimes). I just love Zen Sushi. It is a great little spot for dining and watching….I especially love watching people press their noses up to the dark glass to glimpse inside instead of just opening the door.
Sushi is one of the top favorite foods among my friends. Normally it means seaweed salad (which I love) and figuring out whether I am in the mood to pay regular prices for a bunch of rice filled with avocado and cucumber. Fortunately, Michelle Carpenter’s food genius extends to the non-fish arena and we are graced with interesting, tasty and beautiful vegan sushi options galore.
Even though I initially felt repelled by the simple thought of warm food, I could not resist the gyoza option. I just love steamed gyoza and it is not often that you can find a really good vegan option. To accompany my traditional sushi drink, Asahi Extra Dry, an order of Gyoza arrived. Perfectly steamed and stuffed with a nice blend of cabbage, carrots and I think mushroom (from the look of it, since they were devoured before any thought of asking our server). The bonus on the dish was the garnish of yummy purple cabbage.
The simplicity of ingredients here was a benefit
Next up on the starter menu: Summer Rolls. The inside of this dish sounded too good to pass up, but I just couldn’t stomach anything fried. Lucky for me, chef was happy to wrap up the mango, avocado, fresh cilantro and carrot in a spring roll wrapper instead. Now they felt like summer rolls to me…light and refreshing, perfect for a hot summer day. Top with the jammy plum sauce and fresh mint to make them even more amazing.
Two roll selections were made: Shitake Roll and Beet Xalapa Roll. Shitakes are always a good choice, in my book. The Shitake Roll seemed simple, shitake and cucumber, in the best way. This roll was “meaty” without being heavy, just the way a good ‘shroom should be. The simplicity of ingredients here was a benefit, an understanding that you don’t need a lot of things to distract from the perfect taste of the mushroom with the light and revitalizing cucumber keeping the dish summery. After finishing this roll we ordered another…that should be testimony enough.
The Beet Xalapa Roll was irresistible at first glance. I’m a huge fan of anything with avocado, cilantro, lime and jalapeño any day of the week. I can’t remember it ever being combined with beet on my plate before. Not only was it beautiful, but it was perfectly spiced with jalapeño and the lime slices made all the difference in the flavor. Had there been any room left in my belly I would have ordered another of this roll, too.
There are lots of other options and there is a printed vegetarian/vegan menu. Always available are: Edamame, Agadashi Tofu, Seaweed Salad, Spring Rolls, Mushroom Trio, Vegetable Plate, Tofu Lettuce Wraps. There are many roll options and most standard rolls can be altered easily. Be sure to ask about any specials, just in case.
Sadly, there is no dessert option (an unfortunate trend) for the sweet tooth vegan. If you do happen to have a need for something sweet after you are full of excellent vegan sushi, wander over to Dude, Sweet Chocolate for a vegan chocolate bar….you never know what flavor you might find, but I can promise you it will be delicious.Zen Sushi 380 W 7th St, Dallas, TX