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Zen Bistro, Millbrae is a stylish Japanese restaurant in the Broadway shopping district. They have another location in Sacramento. They have an extensive menu with everything from Ramen to Sushi to Shabu Shabu, so you can spend a lot or a little. They are open for lunch and have a reasonably priced Bento box. Our last visit was in March 2012.
Decor, Vibe – Zen Bistro has a Lounge like decor with playful lighting, flat screen tvs and cool Sushi Bar. Mostly Asians were dining. Lots of couples in their 30’s and 40’s.
Zen Bistro Menu Pictures
Zen Bistro Food Picks:
Super sashimi boat (don’t ask) was ordered by a friend and contained a wide selection of super fresh and high quality fish and shell fish including extremely expensive blue fin toro ($600), mackerel, geoduck, kampachi, hamachi, raw lobster, roe, tuna, walu, salmon, and several other items. This boat was ordered ahead of time and proved to be surprisingly excellent.
Volcano Roll ($13.95) Spicy tuna and asparagus rolled inside out and wrapped in salmon and avocado topped in snow crab, crunchy tempura flakes and scallion with Chef’s Spicy sauce looked like a mess but it was a fun roll with lots of fresh ingredients tossed around and lots of crunchiness.
Beef Roll ($10.25) Shitake, Asparagus and Carrot Rolled in Thinly Sliced Beef was very good, nice texture and some decent beef wrapped the fresh asparagus.
Soft Shell Crab ($7.75) Lightly fried crispy soft shelled crab with tempura sauce was excellent, a nice thin batter and some ponzu dipping sauce.
Deep Fried Potato was decadent with its crispy surface and soft interior.
Yakitori ($4.25) chicken skewers grilled with onion & teriyaki sauce were very sticky and looked ugly, but proved to be pretty good.
SPIDER ROLL ($9.25) Soft Shell Crab cucumber, lettuce, masago had a weird pink sauce that looked extremely inedible, yet was also well done.
Whole fresh Lobster 2 ways – Raw sashimi style and in a soup with eggs and mushroom was unique and very good. Fresh raw lobster was easiest eaten from their pre-cut pile. The rest of the lobster was brought back to the kitchen and turned into soup.
On another occasion, we had the lobster soup with Daikon, mushroom, seaweed and tofu. This soup was fantastic with lots of succulent lobster broth flavor. Our friend helped teach them how to cook this version. Ask for it!
Oysters on half shell were fresh oysters, creative arranged with fish eggs.
Ama-ebi Sweet Raw Shrimp ($6.50) were cut from fresh shrimp and tasted slightly chewy and not fishy. It was freshly cut up for us.
Shrimp Tempura ($4.25 for 2) Deep fried prawns were cooked just right and very crispy to the bite.
Deep Fried Mango ice cream ($4.75) was a fun tempura’d ice cream. Unique combination.
Tiramisu was more of an inventive frozen chocolate ice cream version of the classic dessert. Well worth ordering.
Their mochi ball and creme brulee are equally different but as highly recommended.
Firecracker Roll ($13.50) Spicy tuna, tempura Jalapeno, tuna and albacore on top, Jalapeno Slices Super spicy sauce, scallion and masago was super spicy but decent. Why they put wasabi on the plate, no one knows.
Black Mussels ($8.25) Steamed with a sake garlic ginger broth was fair but small in quantity.
Chicken Teriyaki ($6.50) Tender grilled chicken with teriyaki sauce was slightly above average. Sauce was just right, quantity low.
Grilled Pork Ribs ($6.75) The best ribs you’ll ever have! Asian style. With a description like this, of course it tasted pretty bland.
Zen Bistro had decent service with the friendly servers or bus boys coming by, but not very often. This restaurant has an extensive menu, with lots of small plates and sushi that allow for some exploration and more exotic and expensive items.
Zen Bistro gives Millbrae some style and decent Japanese food. Most other place on the Peninsula concentrate on food and lack the style this place has. We noticed a coupon in the free San Mateo paper, so be sure to look for one.
900 15th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814