Savory taste offsets opening glitches at zen asian bbq

We are lucky we waited until the Sunday after New Year’s, our server told us, because the lines the night before were out the door of the small, intimate dining room.

Zen Asian BBQ had only opened officially on Dec. Noodles and company woodbury 18, but already the word was out despite its rather hidden location in North Naples. Noodles and company headquarters That meant glitches and an untried Naples concept were being worked out under fire (or lack thereof, which I will explain).

Regardless, the comments and glowing looks of appreciation on guests’ faces that Sunday night demonstrated that the truly original décor and food palette here would survive opening jitters.


Let’s start with the setting. Noodles and company hudson wi I remember it as Cilantro Tamales, but more recently Poboys Shrimp Shack occupied it. Noodles and company new berlin The new owners completely re-envisioned the space with an industrial tone set by the massive, gleaming metal ductwork that runs through the middle of the dining room to feed and vent the five gas barbecue tables that are its centerpiece.

Light projections splatter the earth-tone tile wall as you enter; an oversized Asian mask fountain splashes en route to the blue lit sushi bar off to the left. Noodles andcompany Worn wood floors, a brick wall, and a modern mural of an Asian half-face let you know that this is not your traditional Eastern vibe, but one tempered with Western warmth and familiarity.

Likewise, the menu, inspired by Iron Chef Morimoto-trained Chef Koko, gently folds together two cultures, but without sacrificing Asian authenticity. Noodles and company menu prices For instance, the list of shareable appetizers lists tuna pizza ($11.95) and Korean wings ($8.95) — Asian dishes that borrow the names of American favorites.

We tried — under the Rice + Noodle + Soup heading — Bulgogi Ramen Nacho ($11.95), but only because the kitchen had run out of Chef Koko’s signature Hokkaido Ramen ($14.95), a seafood and noodle dish swimming in “famous 17 hours broth.”

The ramen nacho managed to assuage our disappointment at missing a much-anticipated dish. Noodles nd company It reasserts ramen’s recent promotion from college prepackaged hangover cure to trend food. Noodles and company to go A loose interpretation of “nacho,” it serves a nest of crispy noodles topped with thin slices of beef rib-eye steak (did I detect a hint of hoisin sauce?), gooey Parmesan, and Sriracha aioli.

Like the spicy tuna roll ($9) we ordered from the sushi bar prior, the flavors boldly went where few chefs have gone before. What is noodles Quality ingredients and real-deal recipes make the menu work, even when the equipment does not.

Which is sadly what happened on the night of our visit. Noodles locations The good news: We were there early enough to nab one of the barbecue tables, where guests grill their own entrées, even though we had failed to specify that when we made our reservation.

The bad news: Shortly after we were moved to our table, the gas system ceased functioning. Noodles and company draper Something to do with a safety valve. Noodles etc chicago We did get to watch the table next to us cook their food in the metal pit centered in the tabletop.

That left us with the option to have the kitchen grill our meats instead. Noodles and company louisville We were given that option before we moved to the barbecue table, but we were looking forward to the novelty of Naples’ only current Korean barbecue.

Barbecuers receive seven choices of main courses including three beef, a chicken, a pork, and a vegetable entrée. Noodles and things Table occupiers must order at least two items. Noodles history With them come a nice sticky steamed rice and Korean side dishes such as chunks of tasty pickled bamboo shoots, kimchee, and bean sprouts (which tasted out of the can); and spicy tomato-based sauces such as ginger and sesame. Noodles fast food A bowl of ice held beautiful, crisp plumes of romaine lettuce for wrapping the meat and condiments.

We had selected marinated boneless beef short ribs ($25.95) and beef tongue ($23.95). Noodles and company texas The tongue — a very high grade of marbled meat — was thinly sliced and so came out of the kitchen lukewarm. Noodles and company take out The flavor and texture, however, were totally gratifying, as were that of the ribs, which arrived a few minutes later.

Staff apologized profusely for my two disappointments of the evening and strongly suggested I return for the ramen. Noodles and company franchise Other suggestions included the spicy tuna taco appetizer ($9.95) and the grilled octopus ($13.95) prepared Robata-grilled in the kitchen. Noodles corporate Robato, the menu explains, refers to a traditional method meaning “by the fireside,” employed by Japanese fishermen. Noodles and comoany Zen uses a special charcoal called “kiss of fire.”

Other dishes touch on Thai cuisine such as the duck red curry ($21.95) and Chinese — the shrimp tempura combination appetizer ($9.95), for instance.

Despite our disappointment, we were wowed by setting, menu, and the kitchen’s Zen intuitiveness, particularly as we scraped clean the small vat-like container of green tea crème brûlée ($6) with round wooden spoons.

Subtitling itself a “rustic Japanese pub,” Zen serves domestic and Asian beers, sake and a few wines by the glass. Noodles and company joliet It offers happy hour drink and appetizer specials, live music on Saturdays, and late-night dining.

Other touches such as warm cloths to cleanse our hands, lovely clayware, and quality wooden chopsticks set this iteration of pan-Asian cuisine in a station above anything else of that genre that we’ve tried in Southwest Florida. Noodles atlanta menu I predict it will continue to soar to new heights of popularity.