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Good to Go: Zen Sushi Serves a Meal in Bishop Arts Amid a Protest that Never Came

When placing the order at Zen Sushi Tuesday evening, everything appeared normal outside. By the time we picked up the order, they were boarding up the facade.EXPAND
When placing the order at Zen Sushi Tuesday evening, everything appeared normal outside. By the time we picked up the order, they were boarding up the facade.
Taylor Adams

Good to Go is a column where our food writers explore Dallas' restaurant scene through takeout orders, delivery boxes and reheated leftovers.

We had heard from some North Oak Cliff residents that Zen Sushi had decent sushi to go. After some hits and misses in that category, we thought we’d give it a try.

We wanted to keep the dinner in the area to retain the freshness of the meal. That’s an easy enough thing to do in the Bishop Arts District: Benches allow for dining from to-go boxes while we people watch.

Tuesday evening, we walked up to the storefront of Zen, where the small foyer was the only place masked guests were allowed. A menu on the countertop was available for viewing — you order and pay like normal.

The entryway is the only open area of Zen to guests.EXPAND
The entryway is the only open area of Zen to guests.
Taylor Adams

Since the employee said the order would take 20 minutes we walked around the corner to Revelers Hall, where a band was playing jazz to a nearly empty interior and partially filled patio that has dipped into the street.

While this article is about Zen, it’s worth noting if you regularly went out for things such as Manhattans in Dallas restaurants and hadn’t experienced such a thing since February, this moment — sipping one that had the usual bit-too-much sweet vermouth but was still good, sitting in a dimly lit room, listening to lively music — was one that had no need to end.

But it did, not by the call of the Zen order, which would come shortly, but by text messages from friends saying a protest was on its way to Bishop Arts. We finished our drinks, paid the tab and headed outside.

Cop cars lined North Bishop Avenue, some officers walked along the street talking to business owners. One person who owns a couple of spots was running around the intersection looking stressed. Throughout the small area, you could hear drills working to attach boards to restaurants covering windows.

Someone was ready — those boards went up incredibly fast. By the time we got to Zen, it was nearly boarded up. An employee ran out to us with our bag with a look of, “FINALLY, you’re here.”

Police patrol Bishop Arts when news spread that 200 protestors were on their way to the neighborhood.EXPAND
Police patrol Bishop Arts when news spread that 200 protestors were on their way to the neighborhood.
Taylor Adams

So we sat on a metal bench at the corner of West 7th Street and North Bishop Avenue, watching the hoopla happen while I messaged contacts about the status of the march that was going on.

Protestors ended up stopping at Lake Cliff Park (site of our most recent Good to Go article), and Bishop Arts remained untouched.

The sound of working drills and live jazz was a decent distraction from the sushi, which wasn’t offensive but wasn’t something we’ll run back to, either. Maybe someone was nervous when prepping the sashimi and throwing the roll together.

The rainbow roll from ZenEXPAND
The rainbow roll from Zen
Taylor Adams

Despite the roughly sliced sashimi and the lackluster rainbow roll, sushi to go from Zen hits the spot for when you’re craving sushi — if you’re not too snobby and let that craving get filled by plastic trays of sushi from Whole Foods at times.

This order from Zen — larger servings of tuna and salmon sashimi (we ordered tuna and yellowtail, by the way) and the roll — was nearly $60 before tip.

At any rate, it was a fine meal to eat while watching a neighborhood respond to something that never came. Afterward, we strolled to La Reunion, where we ran into friends, some of whom are local business owners who were barely bracing themselves, ready to just continue serving their foods for the evening while a talented musician played outside.

At the end of the day, Bishop Arts was what it frequently is: full of hipsters but also full of community members coming together for a final drink of the night.

Zen Sushi, 380 W. Seventh St. (Bishop Arts District). 214-946-9699. Open for takeout 5 to 9 p.m. daily.

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