Marc P., Princeton University
Located on Witherspoon Street, just across from the Princeton Public Library, Zen Modern Asian (http://www.zenmodernasian.com/) offers a wide variety of Asian dishes (think curry to katsu) at fairly reasonable prices. Though the restaurant has only been in business a few months, the atmosphere is comfortable and the restaurant well-run. To be fair, I did have the luxury of being the only occupied table in the restaurant due to the odd hour of my lunch, but service seemed solid.
Regrettably, I missed the hours for the bento box special, but I did order a combination platter, which consists of an entrée (in this case, pork katsu over curry) and a set of four to five small side dishes including a seaweed salad and gyoza. In addition, I ordered a red dragon roll, which is a shrimp tempura roll topped with spicy tuna and smelt roe.
The presentation of the roll was well-executed—when the food was still ten feet away, I suddenly became acutely aware of the fact that I hadn’t eaten in six hours. The tuna was bright orange, and the roe added an extra splash of color on the top. Luckily, the roll proved not to be all show, tasting just as wonderful as it looked. The tempura had just the right amount of crispiness, avoiding the sogginess oftentimes troubles tempura rolls, and the tuna was appropriately spiced.
The first thing I noticed about the platter was that it was massive. A double-decked tray of food arrived at my table, with the entrée on the bottom and the sides on the top. I wasn’t nearly hungry enough to finish everything, but the pork katsu was very satisfying, if a little heavy, and the seaweed was as fresh and crisp as I could ask for.
In short, this new restaurant has a lot of potential, and even though the meal ran me about thirty dollars, it doesn’t seem unreasonable given both the quality and the quantity of food I got. I’m especially curious to see what the other specialty rolls and basic sushi taste like, especially given Princeton’s lack of affordable, quality sushi options. Needless to say I’ll be going back, and I strongly encourage the rest of campus to try it out as well.