Zeng: Omakase “Hong Kong” cuisine (7.0)

Omakase is all the hype in 2020. It literally means “I’ll leave it up to you” in Japanese, and is used most commonly in sushi restaurants where diners leave it up to the chef to mix and match the day’s fresh produce and create a long menu of an assortment of flavors and culinary styles. Each item would be bitesize.

Zeng is uniquely Hong Kong in the sense that it doesn’t make food or proclaim to make food that adheres specifically to European or Japanese or Chinese traditions. What it does is offer a bit of everything that is currently popular, and the food tastes like home. Not spectacular, but homey and familiar. And Zeng does it omakase-style, in the sense that menu items are practically all pre-selected and the portions of each course are tiny. The set included such items as a red prawn carpaccio, black truffle beef tartare, marinated salmon sushi, tempura, slow-cooked salmon, steak, mentaiko carbonara, cheesecake and crème brûlée, all prepared in a very Asian way. There is no option to go à la carte. The set is priced at $398 (+$88 for the steak).

Apart from the set menu, Zeng also offers oysters–on a weekend, the only option is to go with a $138 free-flow of the same kind of oyster (Irish no. 3, I was told). The oysters were very small, relatively fresh and briny, but were not quite as plump and sweet as one would hope them to be. Taylor Shellfish’s oysters still beat them by a fat margin. We had fifteen to share in total.

Food and vibes are mostly Hong Kong style with an unconvincing touch of chicness. Not too bad, but overall not quite our cup of tea. That being said, services were excellent and the view over the top floor is nice with plenty of sunshine.

Food Rundown

Beef tartare came with black truffle oil and that really added an intense and nutty flavor and aroma, an easy shortcut to make the bland tartare taste quite like a star. Red prawn carpaccio looked a tad mushy, but ended up being reasonably fresh. Salmon was pre-marinated and had a firm texture. Not too bad.

Tempura was mainly veggies with one red prawn that was succulent. Slow-cooked salmon was the pre-salted variety and while it was very tender, it was way too mushy and lacked the kind of flakiness that fish should have. I didn’t finish it.

The steak was a little bland and lacked the smokiness and char of beef fresh off the grill.

This was a little underseasoned and tasted like what I imagine to be a Hong Kong style home-cooked late night noodle meal.

The oysters were relatively fresh and briny, but were too small and not quite as plump and sweet as one would hope them to be. We had fifteen to share between two, despite oysters being a free-flow option.

Cheesecake was the Japanese kind that was lighter and more fluffy and cake-like. Crème brûlée was just that. Decent.

Zeng
$$, Fusion
30/F, V Point, Causeway Bay