After a successful work day, Ben and I decided to celebrate with a dinner out. There aren’t many options for “fine dining” here in Amarillo, but we’ve located a few of the better, locally owned restaurants. I feel a bit guilty about already having dined at 2 of the nicer establishments. Maybe we should have waited for an especially special occassion for a fancy dinner? We should know where to take and where NOT to take guests. Afterall, I have to get people to visit Amarillo a second time. Second rate dinner doesn’t help to ensure second visits! Therefore, I will make the excuse that I’m doing this for others, and a little bit for me. Ok, so anyway…dinner.
Downtown Amarillo reminds me of downtown Waco. It’s growing, and it has a lot of potential. The older buildings are neat so I hope that more businesses decide to open there. Zen 721 is downtown on “the strip” as one local put it. It is an Asian inspired restaurant. They serve sushi, but we didn’t try any tonight.
We ordered the Rock Shrimp Tempura as an appetizer. It was an impressive dish. Not minimal in presentation. I wish I’d taken a picture! It looked like a fancy plate of chili cheese fries, but it tasted much better. Tempura shrimp and green beans over a bed of spring mix drizzled with a spicy unidentifiable sauce, grated carrots garnished the top. I first thought the carrots to be grated cheddar cheese, which made the cheese fry comparison even more convincing. Thankfully, it was not cheese. The tempura batter was crispy and the ratio of batter to shrimp and to green bean was nice. Yummy and enough for 4…at least.
Ben ordered the pepper seared strip steak served with broccoli, sauteed mushrooms and scallions. Served rare just like he’d asked, the steak was fanned beautifully on the plate and it was good. The pepper was a strong and identifiable flavor, but not overpowering. The vegetables were also nice, and didn’t seem to be drowned in butter, oil or sauce.
I had the mahi mahi special; a seared mahi filet served a top mint Israeli cous cous and sauteed asparagus. The menu claimed that this dish was drizzled with a coconut vanilla sauce, which intrigued me. I could not taste either ingredient in the sauce, but the dish was delicious nonetheless.
The restuarant is long and narrow with tall ceilings. There is a bar that seats maybe 15 people with a few tall tables near the front. The dining area has roughly 10 tables, some seat 4 and others 2. There is also a curtained off room near the back which is lounge-like containing a small red sofa and a round 8 top. Nice for a private little evening with a group of friends. The bar and dining area are separated by a tall screen wall making the dining room seem more intimate. The decor and lighting is simple. Nothing to distract from your meal or your company. On a thursday night at 8 the place was almost full. There was a table near us that was empty, but other than that it was well attended. We did not have to wait for a table, so that was refreshing.
The CZ Rating is as follows, on a scale of 1-10-