Restaurante Asiático Zen in Puerto Banús has been delighting lovers of Asian cuisine since 2002, but everything about it spells youthfulness and style.
Spacious and lavish, the restaurant boasts a luxurious dining interior with furniture covered in plush purple fabrics, imposing gold columns and designer lighting features.
Lovers of al fresco dining nestle in the sexy thatched roof exterior dining area, complete with a stylish bar and lounge area, and a new teppanyaki table, perfect for birthdays and other celebrations all year round.
At the lounge, you can sip on a cocktail pre- or post-meal, even on the coolest nights of the year, since the terrace is fitted with cosy heating that will make it seem like a warm spring evening.
My most recent visit to the iconic establishment, alongside essential’s Iain Blackwell, was just as pleasing to the stomach as the eye. We opted to sit inside, as we were in the mood for a bit of royal purple and sipped on a cool glass of Sapporo beer while checking out the tempting menus.
I say menus in plural, for here, you are faced with the task of selecting between Chinese and Japanese food. We chose to share a couple of starters from the Japanese menu, and to continue the feast with the sweetness and spice of Chinese.
Having given in to our penchant for fish and seafood at various establishments in the summer, Iain and I consider ourselves tataki snobs. We were truly surprised with Asiático Zen’s take on this classic – as tender as expected, but bearing a unique soy-based marinade that titillated our taste buds and led to a rather ‘assertive’ competition for the lion’s share of the dish.
We also enjoyed a magnificent Peking duck – perhaps the most famous and popular dish at Asiático Zen, owing to a variety of factors. Take the presentation; the chef brings out a plump, super crisp duck and carves it by your table. Then there is the taste and texture – crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside, rolled inside a heavenly rice pancake, filled with cucumber, diced onions and an irresistible sweet plum sauce.
The portions at Asiático Zen are generous, yet the combination of flavours opened our appetite to two Chinese classics. I had the sizzling prawns in garlic – plump, juicy and enticing, and once again cooked at the side of our table by the staff. Iain ordered a black pepper beef – wonderfully tender and bearing a delightful kick.
We were pleased with our choices, yet intrigued by the many options on the menu – clearly an excuse to return for lunch or dinner. The Chinese menu contains many entries, including tempting starters (think friend prawns with sesame seeds, chicken in lettuce and water chestnuts or a variety of dim sum).
Fresh-from-the-sea lobster is also available – enjoy it with your selection of sauces. Mains include a plethora of ingredients, including king prawns, sea bass, scallops, tenderloin steak, ribs and vegetarian options such as pak choi and tofu. The selection of rice and noodles is impressive.
As for Japanese, seasoned sushi and sashimi fans will find a blend of traditional and creative takes on revered dishes. We watched as the friendly manager, Ismael, brought out a tray of colourful maki to the table next to us – and vowed to opt for sushi upon our next visit.
We noted that the restaurant offers very reasonable menus for two or four persons – which makes it a good choice for business lunches or family meals.
Restaurante Asiático Zen is a classic establishment with a seasoned staff that guarantees dedicated service and dishes imbued with tradition and true passion for two of the world’s most universally loved cuisines.
Whether embraced by the regal interiors of enticed by the Balinese exteriors, this venue is definitely designed to bring body, mind and spirit to a far more enticing world.
Words Marisa Cutillas / Photography Kevin Horn
Open daily for lunch and dinner. C/ Los Lirios, 10 B, Nueva Andalucía. Tel: 952 817 691.