What do we all want in our neighborhoods? Good schools, smooth sidewalks and decent Chinese food.
If you live on the border of Pleasant Hill and Martinez, you've likely noticed a new spot to get your Moo Shu fix. Zen, a small, smartly decorated restaurant with red-hued walls and gold accents, opened in September on Pleasant Hill Road in a small shopping center across from T.J. Maxx. Foot traffic has been slow -- the restaurant was empty on a recent Saturday night -- but that should change once locals realize that Zen offers fresher, more affordable fare than the competition.
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Zen Restaurant 2642 Pleasant Hill Rd., (925) 287-8899, zenrestaruantca.com
“Need a reason to head to this small but elegant pan-Asian restaurant in outlying Pleasant Hill? The spinach and shrimp dumplings could be it. Tender crescent-shaped wrappers barely contain the vibrant spinach and shrimp, perfectly steamed to a crisp plumpness. Zen beats other local Asian restaurants for freshness, quality, and affordability, but the kitchen needs to take care that the hyper-fresh entrée veggies arrive at the table hot, and that the halibut is cooked as gently as the standout shrimp and scallops. Crisp, smoky duck tucks into steamed buns like white velvet, but calling the chicken salad “Thai style” is a bit of a stretch. Luckily, the dessert menu offers imported ice cream treats, plus green tea and tropical fruit ice cream - all fine closers. The wine list, heavy on off-dry whites, works well with the cuisine. Lunch and dinner daily.”