A fusion of flavours from throughout Asia is what A.M.S. experienced at Zengo for a memorable feast.
Elegantly perched on the 61st story of Kempinski Residences & Suites, Doha, Zengo is situated in the pulsating heart of West Bay. Proudly standing as the highest restaurant in Doha, its prestige was heightened by its ranking among the top 16 highest restaurants worldwide, making our experience feel even more special.
As we stepped inside, the restaurant’s atmospheric low lighting drew the city’s illumination into sharper focus, each twinkle standing out against the vast night sky. The harmony of dark wood panelling with golden table accents created an air of elegance that was both intimate and grand.
The brainchild of the acclaimed Chef Richard Sandoval and ‘inspired by his world travels’, the restaurant is imbued with a spirit of culinary adventure. As we browsed the menu, it revealed a tapestry of Pan-Asian delights.
Our guide to the proceedings was Bojan, the venue’s manager, who joined us at our table to explain the menu. His passion for the restaurant’s artistry was palpable. That enthusiasm was mirrored by our waiter, Mounim, whose relaxed demeanour also added a layer of warmth to our dining experience. Together, they created an inviting atmosphere, whetting our appetites for the evening ahead.
A STELLAR START
The initial offering, Salmon Pillows, was as dreamy as the name suggests. The soft, delicate salmon paired with creamy avocado yuzu was a match made in heaven. The furikake added a subtle crunch and cilantro infused a fresh herbal note, all beautifully tied together with tangy ponzu sauce.
The sensory spectacle that followed was a real showstopper. The Thai Seafood Ceviche began with a coconut and lime crumble created by pouring liquid nitrogen into the flavour-packed concoction. This airy crumble was sprinkled onto the ceviche, where a nest of spun sugar, dissolving under a drizzle of green chilli sauce, added a sweet allure and visual drama. One of the chefs joined us tableside to mix the elements in a harmonious dance of sweet, tang and heat. The dish was a testament to the menu’s balance of flavours and textures, creating a delicate yet complex melange.
The hot starters that arrived next were also a revelation. Cod & Prawn Gyoza with a filling that was succulent, perfectly seasoned, and encased in a crisp, golden ponzu batter. These were paired with Duck Tsukune – juicy, rich barbecue duck meatballs coated in a silky yuzu Hollandaise sauce that added a citrusy elegance.
DELICATE, BALANCED FLAVOURS
In essence, the dishes formed an interwoven array of favourites from Japan mingled with essences of Thailand, while hints of China and Indonesia added depth and diversity to the spread. The menu, though rooted in tradition, flaunts a contemporary twist that is both refreshing and adventurous – each dish blending authenticity and innovation.
This theme extended to our main course, Dengakuman, which consisted of perfectly cooked miso-glazed Chilean sea bass that simply melted in our mouths. Its umami flavour perfectly complemented the creamy celeriac puree that sat beneath. The accompanying Japanese salsa added a fresh and zesty contrast. Alongside the fish, we were treated to the corn-fed chicken, otherwise known as that Chinese classic – Kung Pao Chicken. The shishito peppers and dry chilli brought a gentle heat, while the cashew nuts offered a crunchy texture. The sauce enveloped the chicken in a rich, savoury glaze that was utterly addictive.
A WARM, SOOTHING ATMOSPHERE
In between the exquisite courses, we relished the opportunity to stroll around. The expansive windows offered a mesmerising view of the dark sea beyond, while the city’s lit-up structures beckoned us to identify them from their glowing outlines. On the other side of the restaurant, the evening’s entertainment was coming to life, with a soothing saxophone player setting the mood. Couples and larger family groups also began to trickle in, ready to enjoy a late dinner.
We were beckoned to our table once again by the alluring aroma of The Smoking Chocolate Pot. The Valrhona dark chocolate dessert, with a surprise Thai tea centre, had been bathed in a cloud of smoke that imbued it with an extra intriguing dimension of flavour. The Thai tea ice cream on the side was the perfect cooling complement. Just when we thought we’d reached the zenith, we were introduced to Just Coconut – the finest chocolate-shelled concoction that you wish you could find in shops. The Vietnamese coffee inside lent a rich, aromatic depth to the coconut mascarpone cream filling, creating an addictive, moreish quality. The inclusion of popping chocolate added a playful twist, transforming each spoonful into a uniquely delightful experience, evoking the thrill of a rare and indulgent find.
As our evening at Zengo drew to a close, the blend of culinary excellence and atmospheric charm left an indelible mark on our memories. From the breathtaking views and gentle saxophone melodies to the artful balance of flavours and textures, every moment was exquisite. The restaurant’s commitment to catering for all, with its thoughtful array of dishes for diverse dietary needs, only added to the inclusive and welcoming ambience. As we departed, the anticipation of returning lingered, like the subtle aftertaste of fine cheese, promising new delights with each future visit.