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Multi-culture Oriental food offers variety

Buried in the heart of the Tower District, Zen Wok Fusion Bistro has made a name for its Asian cuisine. After a wonderful recommendation by a friend, junior Viviana Hinojosa and I ventured off into a part of town only one of us were familiar with, which of course was me. I don’t often eat in the tower district for various reasons, but because this place has received so much hype from my friends, I decided to give it a try.

Having arrived early to the restaurant I waited until 5 p.m. for the doors to open. Lunch is available from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Monday-Friday. The restaurant then closes for a two and a half hour span, to re-open at 5 p.m. for the dinner crowd, closing at 9 p.m..

From my speculation most of the local restaurants cut the hours of operation because of wages for workers and expenses of the operation, but I do have to say it is annoying to drive to a place and wait 30 minutes for them to re-open.

Having just re-opened Viviana and I were the only ones inside so the wait was not long at all. Promptly after sitting down we were served water with slices of cucumber to help give the water an unexpected kick. Since I had looked at the menu online prior to the visit I ordered the chicken lettuce wraps as starters, at the same time we ordered the honey walnut shrimp with coconut rice and the coconut curry chicken entree.

Zen Wok does not cling to any specific ethnic background like Chinese, Japanese, or Thai but blends the different cultures together to create the “Fusion” in their name.

The beginner that we ordered arrived in about five minutes which shows even the restaurant is prepared for customers at any moment, although I do want to re-visit sometime soon to see how they function under pressure. Anyways, the chicken lettuce wraps were different, at least compared to others that I have tried before.

The chicken didn’t seem to bee cooked thoroughly as well as the sauce tasting funky. The presentation of the plate was clean, but the follow through was not up to par. I do not recommend the lettuce wraps, but then again Viviana had a different opinion on them.

When the plates first arrived I was skeptical, who would have ever thought to serve coconut rice and honey walnut shrimp together on the same plate. For those who do not know what coconut rice is composed of you will be in for a treat. Above anything else this plate was by far the most delectable.

Served with eight pieces of thickly battered, deep fried shrimp, glazed in a caramelized in a special roue, the shrimp was delicious. Placed adjacent to the seafood was the coconut rice, with baked shavings of coconuts on top. Cooked with coconut oil the rice was very moist and sweet, something I have never tried before but liked instantly.

The Thai coconut curry consisted of freshly cut bell peppers, yellow onions, mushrooms and to top it off the bowl is garnished with bean sprouts with chopped peanuts to add a twist. This was by far the spiciest entree we ordered, I do not recommend others to try this unless they are accustomed to spicy or hot in flavor cuisine; to me I thought there was an after kick but not so spicy it is inedible.

Stuffed at the bottom of the bowl was delicious sweet rice that complimented the spicy chicken helping tone down the spiciness. Although this restaurant is predominantly Asian the coconut rice is actually a popular side in Brazil; something I would not have thought would compliment this Asian food so nicely.

After finishing dinner the tab was handed to me and surprisingly the bill was more than I expected, the total came to $28.11 (I used a coupon that was online for a free appetizer); I was shocked because I only ordered two plates. One aspect of the restaurant that is unique is the water; I just cannot stop talking about the fresh taste tingling feeling that I felt each time I drank the water with cucumber slices in it.

For those who are looking for tasty food, family style servings and prompt service, Zen Wok Fusion Bistro is the place to eat. But if your not planning on spending more than eight dollars a person, I would not recommend this place. However, the appearance and and aura is inviting and I will return with my family soon.

For more information about Zen Wok Fusion Bistro visit their website at, they are located at 609 Olive Ave. Fresno, Ca, 93728 or call at 559.442.1277

For more reviews, read the Feb. 1 article, Unique venue presents American-European cuisine.

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  • D

    Daniel MooreFeb 8, 2013 at 12:03 am

    Jamba Juice is great! Especially if you run there.

  • T

    Tyler LairdFeb 8, 2013 at 12:03 am

    Jamba runs are awesome! And Juan, you should join so you could experience the good old days again.

  • J

    Juan RuelasFeb 8, 2013 at 12:03 am

    I remember when I used to do cross country… oh the good old days…