House of Zen, St Anne’s Square, Cathedral Quarter, Belfast
Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter has fast become one of the ‘places to be’ when it comes to the City’s nightlife. With so many bars, clubs & restaurants serving drink and cuisine that covers the entire globe whilst still keeping a local traditional feel. Places like the Harp Bar, The Duke of York & White’s Tavern to name but a few are full to the doors and bursting with life, music & craic when the weekend arrives.
If a good meal is what you’re after you are spoilt for choice. Many of the bars serve good hearty pub grub & bites to share or if you fancy something fancier there are plenty of restaurants to suit pretty much any palette. This is more than evident in St Anne’s Square, a beautifully lit, aesthetically striking place which gives you a ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore’ feeling when you walk through it.
Tonight we were making what was my second visit to House of Zen, a very popular Asian cuisine restaurant and the latest addition to the Zen group in Belfast. Knowing it’s popularity I made the reservation well in advance and following this was contacted on 3 separate occasions to first pay a deposit (as there was 6 of us) and then to confirm our booking & numbers by phone and by text. Needless to say, they are keen to make sure you’ll be turning up, ‘don’t skip town’ as they say.
On the night itself, with kids duly ditched with the Grandparents we embarked on a mini pub crawl before making our way round to the restaurant, which, as expected was packed. Before too long we were shown to our booth and were well looked after while we were there despite the ridiculous attempt at humour when it came to ordering, just so we are clear, the ‘dragon tail ribs’ are NOT real dragon!
I seemed to veer towards the seafood options of which there are many as well as the expected chicken, beef & duck. There are also plenty of gluten free choices and set menus available. My starter was the soft shell ‘angry’ crab and main course was the Monkfish (personally my fav seafood) in Tang Yang sauce. Each of us ordered something different and everything looked and tasted excellent. Well-presented good sized portions with bold colours and strong flavours. Some dishes can be a little expensive particularly if you go for the signature dishes, duck or some of the seafood mains as all sides are a separate cost. There is a pre-theatre menu available Sunday to Thursday early evenings.
It was an excellent meal in a great setting, with plenty of choice close by to drink up an appetite before, or head to afterwards. An advantage it has over the other Zen restaurants, though the original city centre Adelaide Street restaurant is also very good. If you love your Asian food, House of Zen is a must try, you will not be disappointed.