Naked Buddha

Fishbowl-zen den is a lot less clever than it thinks

Three-mushroom (shitake, portobello, wood ear) and ginger-fried brown rice contained provocative hints on the menu, but from fork to lips the stir dissipated. The dish was mostly bland and what did rise above dullness had an off taste, like sour earth or something, only not that exciting.

Stir-fried Hokkien noodle canton B.B.Q. pork with scallions and tangy soy had perhaps the most striking flaw, and the really annoying thing about this flaw is that, save for it, the dish was really quite good--well-textured, well-balanced, hearty. But the chips of pork were overcooked and had an old, off taste, as if the meat were freezer-burned. This was more noticeable because a couple of pieces of the meat were sweet and tasty, though overcooked, while the rest of it was leaning dangerously into rancidity.

Dessert picked up, though. Almost. The cheesecake egg rolls, fried pastry filled with cream cheesy goo, were good with sweetness offset by the cheese pungency, like real cheesecake, but thrown on its ear by twisted temperature and texture. Yet it was paired with a miserable raspberry sauce for dipping that had all the fresh, authentic fruit flavor of generic jam.

Pass the pipe--er, sushi: Zen den's "opium den temple of love" is all kitsch, no narcotic. Dang.
Stephen P. Karlisch
Pass the pipe--er, sushi: Zen den's "opium den temple of love" is all kitsch, no narcotic. Dang.

Location Info

Map

Fishbowl Zen Den

3214 Knox St.
Dallas, TX 75205

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Park Cities

Details

214-521-2695. Open 5-11 p.m. Monday-Friday, 3-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Sushi served past midnight. $$-$$$

Miso soup: $3
Calamari: $9
Chicken lettuce cups: $8
Hokkien noodle B.B.Q. pork: $12
Three-mushroom rice: $8
Korean sizzling steak: $17
Crab/sprout egg foo young: $14
Firecracker chicken: $12
Pad Thai: $10
Cheesecake rolls: $4

Closed Location

One thing that could use a little of the tongue-in-cheek cuteness of the concept is the service. It was attentive but abrupt and clumsy. Pacing was choppy, broken up by waits between order and delivery, even when the place was empty, and on one occasion a server left our table to put in our entrée requests before everyone had placed their orders.

Fishbowl-zen den cuteness was fun at first. As a bar scene with sake, Japanese beer and specialty drinks coupled with decent sushi, the place is fine, but for much more, it gets tedious; it almost seems as though the kitchen and service staffs are distracted by the "ain't we clever" shenanigans. This Buddha has no clothes.

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