RAISE YOUR GLASS AND LIVE! AT ZINDA

Zinda

From the outside, Zinda looks like any other Fayetville St. restaurant.  But stepping inside, you find yourself moved into a lovely, upscale restaurant.  It’s very charming.  The bar area is spacious, the tables well situated, the lighting is just right.  Open the menu and you are transported to the Far East.

http://www.zindaraleigh.com

Overall: 4.75 out of 5

Food/Beverage: 4.5 out of 5

Ambiance: 5 out of 5

Value: 4.5 out of 5

Service: 5 out of 5

Another lovely 1/2 price wine special Thursday Night!   What a great value. We had originally picked Zinda because of their new Dim Sum and Then Sum menu and 80s/90s throwback, but were sad to realize it didn’t start till 9.  Seemed a little strange to offer Dim Sum so late but our woes were quickly laid to rest when we opened that beautiful menu.

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The night was perfect! From the moment we sat down at the bar, everything was just so.  The bartender was quick with our drinks, offered samples when we were unsure which wine we wanted, and gave suggestions when asked.  As we cashed out from the bar, the hostess quickly sat us at our lovely, spacious booth.  I was surprised to see that the dining room was empty at 7:00pm.  For us, that just meant we would be treated to impeccable service.

What do you order at an Asian fusion restaurant that offers dishes from China, Vietnam, Thailand, India…and so many others?  The choices were endless, and seemed a little daunting at first.  Most of us decided to sample from the small plates menu.

The item on the menu that drew me to Zinda was the steamed buns.  It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to eat steamed buns.  There was an Asian supermarket near my apartment in Columbus Ohio that had a sort of deli counter.  They offered several different types of steamed buns.  God, I fell in absolute love with them.  Since then, I’ve become more cautions about eating meat, so I’ve stayed away from most.  Zinda serves a vegetarian steamed bun filled with mushrooms and zucchini (3 for $6).

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They also offer chicken, duck and pork belly steamed buns (3 per order) ranging from $7 to $8.50.

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One of my lovely dinner companions ordered the Chicken Katsu.  Even though they weren’t quite as traditional as the steamed buns from the Asian market, they were delicious.  The sticky sauce drizzled throughout was just the right balance to the veggies in the mushroom steamed buns and the dough was steamed to perfection!

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The other dish I ordered is something I just can’t resist, Samosas.  They were served as 4 mini delicious pockets of flaky pastry stuffed with spiced potatoes and peas for $6.50 with a mint chutney and a cranberry chutney.  The mint was refreshing, with a hint of a kick while the cranberry was perfectly sweet.  Both balanced nicely with the flavors inside the pockets.

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The summer rolls were done well, however not the best I’ve ever had.  The portion was very large, 4 pieces for $7, and had a great mix of ingredients including jicama, papaya, carrots, tofu, lettuce and mint, but the sauce was lacking.  It was kind of a watery lime flavored mess.  I also thought the rolls were stuffed with too much lettuce, and it overpowered the delicate flavor of the rice paper.  I wouldn’t order them again, but I’m very happy I had the chance to try them.

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Another of my dinner companions ordered this amazing assortment of gluten free delight, the Tandoori Paneer.  It was an assortment of spiced to perfection veggies (including a whole head of roasted cauliflower) paired with their house made cheese ($8).  It was quite nice, and gobbled up in it’s entirety.

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The Crispy 5 Spice Calamari was a huge hit too.  At $9 this huge portion of calamari was hard to pass up.  It was lightly breaded and fried and served with three delicious sauces.  I loved the amount of spice in this dish! Especially with the creamy mayonnaise based sauce.

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One of the ladies went against the current and ordered an Entree.  The Mee Goreng ($16.50) could be served with either rice or noodles and was topped with chicken, beef, shrimp, carrots, cabbage and egg with soy sauce.  It was very tasty! And a big enough portion that she had plenty left over for the next day.

Some of the other dishes ordered, that I didn’t have a chance to try, included

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the “Shaking Beef” lettuce cups ($6), which had that same sauce as the spring rolls.

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The vegetable spring rolls ($6), which were fried a little heavy but even so were a great hit.

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The chicken satays ($7.50), which appeared to be well cooked and were served with an amazing peanut sauce.

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Last but certainly not least was the Som Tam Salad, topped with shrimp, tomatoes, carrots, cilantro and beans ($10) was a huge portion and I am pretty sure became lunch the next day.

All in all, the combination of dishes, the affordable prices on the small plates menu, the beautiful atmosphere and the amazing attitude of the staff here made our evening an absolute success!  I can’t wait to go back to Zinda.  I am so excited to try more of the delicious items on the full menu.  Hopefully some night I’ll have the energy to stay up till the Dim Sum menu is available.

Please go to Zinda…you will be so happy that you did.

 

 

 

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