365 Restaurants, 2 Kids, 1 Giant Fiasco
Ahh, another night at the hospital for me tonight, which meant that we’d have to eat dinner early so I could eat dinner with my little family. I gave Ogre the choice of BBQ or Asian food, he chose Asian Food. He picked a restaurant close to our house so that we could all drive together also. We left the house at 5 o’clock assuming we’d have plenty of time for me to get back to the house and head out. The restaurant he chose was Zenna.
When you walk in, you feel like you’ve walked into a one of those hipster spots in uptown. It’s got a contemporary Asian decor and the music is very much what you’d hear in a lounge. The kids loved the music and since our kids like to dance, they was definitely dancing going on as soon as we sat down!
We were seated right away in a booth in the back corner, which was great for us and I felt very nicely isolated from the other patrons. We reviewed the very large and varied menu and decided to get a couple of appetizers for the kids. They both like dumplings and tofu. For Ogre and I, we thought we would share a couple of items to get some variety. Ogre wanted the Pad Kee Maw, but we realized that the Pad Thai would probably be more palatable for the kids, if they wanted some. That and Tom Kah were our choices.
I also noted that they had some Happy Hour deals for sushi. They had about 6 or 7 sushi for $1 a piece and rolls for about $2.50. I decided I’d order some and Mina said that she wanted tuna also. Great, I’d order 2 for me and 1 for her and then a tuna roll for me. We put in our order and were left to wait with our rowdy, unentertained kids.
Benji was already screaming. In fact, when he did with the waitress taking our order, she was literally taken aback and brought her shoulders to her neck. He would scream, “GO GO YAH!” We tried to get him to chill out. Mina brought her toy she got from the dentist with her and put it on his and her heads and that chilled Benji out for about 2 minutes, but then he was annoyed with that, too. Ugh. Ogre gave him chopsticks, but he ended up throwing those at me. Those got put away.
Thank goodness some food came out. Ogre and I cut up the dumplings for the kids and each had one. Then the Tofu Satay came out and we cut these up for the kids also. Mina’s excitement for the tofu faded when she tasted the peanut sauce. She didn’t like it. Ogre told her to wipe it off, but she still didn’t want it. He likened it to peanut butter and told her that if she didn’t eat it, she wouldn’t get any more peanut butter. Now the faded excitement turned to tears. She saw me taking the crust off Benji’s and requested that to be done to hers, too. She still didn’t really eat it, but she was saved by the arrival of the soup and sushi. Benji, by the way, LOVED the tofu!
Ogre and I were both bewildered by the odor coming from the soup bowl, what the heck was that? Ogre poured some for me in my bowl and we both realized that it tasted a lot better than it smelled. Mina requested her sushi, which we gave to her and she told us she liked it a lot! Benji took note of the sushi plate and, specifically, the ginger and wanted “mo mo yah” (more). This boy loves ginger, it’s freakish, in my opinion. He ended up eating ALL of the ginger on the plate.
Next out came the Pad Thai. Ogre dished mine and started eating his while I was finishing up another one of my tuna roll pieces. Ogre didn’t say anything to me about the Pad Thai, but I literally wondered what I was eating after I took a bite. I have never had Pad Thai that tasted like that and it wasn’t good. I’m still not sure what the flavor was. Ogre thought maybe it was just a little too sweet, but no, it wasn’t just that it has an odd flavor, one that I couldn’t eat. So, being the thoughtful Mom that I am, I gave some to Benji. He liked it and actually asked for more! Mina also asked for more…more sushi. She ate a second piece of sushi. I continued eating my tuna roll and what was left of my soup. I did not want to eat that last piece of sushi in the case that Mina would want it, and sure enough, she wanted it.
Mina ate that and then asked for the last dumpling and munched on that while we ordered dessert (Black Sticky Rice). Mina does not eat the rice that comes with the sushi (Ogre also noticed that they don’t put the dab of wasabi on the sushi, which is great for Mina), so we gave that to Benji, who said, “goo”. He loves rice.
Out came the dessert and Mina said it looked like a donut. We took a bite and found the black sticky rice underneath. Mina only wanted the custard topping. Benji liked it, but he must’ve eaten so much at dinner that after a few bites, he didn’t want anymore! That’s a first for the Benj.
By now, I have, like, one minute before we need to get moving so I wouldn’t be late. Mina finished off dessert and Team Phipps headed up with bellies full, well everyone’s belly was full except mine. Remember, I didn’t get to eat the Pad Thai or any of my tuna sushi. So here, I sit, my stomach already feeling a little empty. Hope I can make it til morning.
So, I guess this is another one of those “Asian Fusion” restaurants, which honestly, I don’t really love in the first place. In my unwanted opinion, I think you should stick to what you know best and deliver it. That being said, we ordered a typically Chinese appetizer, I ordered sushi, and then we order 2 Thai dishes to boot. Hee hee.
The appetizers. We actually ordered the appetizers for the kids since they don’t have a children’s menu. We ordered the Tulip dumplings (this describes the shape of the dumpling) and the Tofu Satay. I thought the dumplings had a good flavor, but it was definitely overcooked. In fact, Mina thought they were burnt at first. She loved the dumplings, though, and ate two of them! The Tofu Satay was very well-liked by the boys. I don’t like tofu and Mina normall does but she was turned off by the Peanut Sauce. Good thing though, because Benji was able to eat what she didn’t want. He indicated over and over how “goo” (good) they were.
Ogre and I ordered Tom Kha soup as our appetizer (it’s a coconut milk based soup). First off, it smelled weird. I was very worried. It did not taste nearly as bad as it smelled. BUT it was too salty. Ogre thinks this is because they add chili sauce to it, which is salty and that just pushed over the saltiness. Not the worst either one of us has ever had, but not great.
Next out the sushi. The tuna roll was probably below average to average. I was almost put off by my first piece as it had this subtle dirty dish rag taste to it. Gross, I know. Anyway, I gave it another try and the rest of the pieces were fine. I can’t tell you how the tuna sushi were because Mina ate all three. She must’ve thought they were awesome.
Then came the Pad Thai. Ogre gave me my half and I took one bite and was perplexed. I have never had Pad Thai that tasted like that and cannot describe the strange flavor or draw a taste that it reminds me of. I only took another bite to try and figure out what that taste was. Other than that, I could not tolerate eating it. Ogre thought it was too sweet, but he finished it saying he didn’t think it was “that bad.” Benjamin liked it, too.
Finally, dessert. We ordered the Black Sticky Rice (no mangoes, out of season). The “breading” that came atop the black rice was quite tasty. I thought the rice was a little underdone, but overall, it tasted fine.
Average at best, that’s being very generous. They came by and kept drinks filled. BUT, notably, we were asked what we thought of the food TWICE by two different waitresses and I clearly said that overall it was okay and that I did not like the Pad Thai at all and there was no response. Literally, they just kind of smiled and walked off. Not that I expected some sort of compensation, but acknowldegement is always nice.
The food also came out at slower tempo than I would like particularly for arriving at the restaurant at 5:15.
I believe I mentioned before that I have come to not expect children’s menus or activities at Asian restaurants, so it average with regard to that for an Asian restaurant. The restaurant is very echo-y so when Benjamin screams for no apparent reason, EVERYBODY hears it. The waitress even cringed when he did it while she was taking our order (in her defense, I cringed, too). If you sit in one of the booths, it does give you a feeling of privacy because no one can see that it’s your kid carrying on like a baboon.
I found it very interesting, though, that our kids LOVED the food here. Benji ate EVERYTHING we gave him. He liked the dumplings, the tofu (especially the tofu!!), the ginger from my sushi plate, noodles from my Pad Thai, the rice from Mina’s tuna sushi. And Mina ate pretty well also! She loved the dumplings and ate all three tuna sushi. It was crazy!
The total: $37.35
Ogre and I have an ongoing “argument” about a place on the frontage road of I-75 where we served heated up frozen Italian food. I think it was at Paesano’s. He says it was at this place, which I guess used to be an Italian restaurant. When we walked in, he pointed it out again, but I really don’t think so. He says we’ve never eaten at Paesano’s. I think we have because when I imagine the time we had the “frozen dinners” we were in a small restaurant. Anyway, expect a visit to Paesano’s to lay this to rest. Unless, I guess, others of you ate frozen, reheated Italian food at the restaurant that used to sit in the spot of Zenna! Nah, I still wouldn’t concede!!
Childsplate.com chronicles our journey to find the perfect family restaurant. We are looking for restaurants with excellent food and a great attitude towards kids, even the whiny, cranky ones! We will be headed out to a different restaurant every single day to provide ourselves (and you) with some entertainment and good information about DFW area restaurants. We hope you will visit frequently and use our experiences to create some fun dining experiences of your own! Watch out, DFW, the Phipps family is going out to eat!