Last Sunday I went to Scottsdale to try out a new restaurant and I wanted to share my experience. I am known by my friends as an extreme foodie. This is the first new restaurant I have been to since starting my blog so I figured it should be my first official restaurant review.
So let’s get to it. About two weeks ago I saw an event on Facebook advertising $5 ramen bowls. Recently I have developed an obsession with ramen so I figured this was my perfect opportunity to try a new place.
Here are my thoughts about Zen Culinary. I arrived at the restaurant about 6pm Sunday evening. When I arrived I was told there would be a 45 minute wait. I agreed to the wait time and waited outside the restaurant for a call from the hostess. Forty-five minutes went by and the call never came so I decided to walk back into the restaurant and noticed some more people waiting who weren’t there before. Almost immediately the manager asked how she can help me. I explained to her how long I had waited and she said she would take care of me. A few moments later the hostess walked back up and started talking to the manager. They agreed to open up an additional section of the restaurant. I was confused because I have never been to a place with such a long wait when there are available tables. The entire back section of the restaurant was open. The hostess left and said she needed to clean off a table and she would be back. But when I finally reached my table it was pretty obvious the entire section was already set up and ready for people. Although there were several open tables in this section no one else was seated here the entire time I was at the restaurant.
At this point it is already 7pm and happy hour is over. I am holding on strong and not complaining because I am only here for the $5 ramen bowls. I should mention this place is far from my house like 30 minute drive so I am pretty committed to this place after the long drive. At this point I am refusing to order anything besides the ramen bowl because I am not getting happy hour pricing on drinks and appetizers because of the hour wait. Yes, I am that cheap. If I miss happy hour I will not order anything that was on the happy hour menu.
Let’s fast forward to the ordering process. The waiter came and asked for the drink order. Came back about 5 minutes later with the drinks (water only). When he came back with the water I placed my order. After some discrepancy on what ramen bowls were not able to be made the waiter walked away to the kitchen. When he came back 3 more of the ramen bowls on the menu were eliminated. By this time it is about 7:15 or so. I am only paying attention to the timing of everything because the wait was so long. Keep in mind by this time most of the restaurant has emptied out. 7:40 comes along still no food. The female manager comes and brings complimentary spring rolls. I am happy because at this point I am starving. This gesture is probably the only thing that saved me from getting super hangry. Keep in mind no complaints were made to management ever. About 7 -10 minutes after the first order of spring rolls the waiter delivers a second tray of free spring rolls. At this point all I can do is laugh. I am still a little hangry but laughing is all I can do. I mean they felt so bad that they gave two free plates of food. When I finally got the Ramen it wasn’t even good. The broth was barely ok and the vegetables were awful. The bowls didn’t even have mushrooms. This was the first time I have ever had ramen that only came with two vegetables. Keep in mind I ordered the vegetable ramen. So, it was pretty much as basic as possible. I get these bowls were $5 but they were awful even for $5. Definitely not worth the drive time and wait time. This being a new restaurant I feel they should be offering their best to keep people coming. I understand service can have off days, but the food was extremely basic.
Atmosphere and Décor: 3/5 Nice décor but there was really no flow to the restaurant. The back part was well-lit and the front part was dim and dark. They could do better and make the entire restaurant cohesive with a theme that clearly defines that restaurant.
Value: 1/5 The food was not worth the money. The regular menu items are expensive. I don’t know if they are any good but from what I saw the prices looked a little steep.
Service: 1/5 Pretty awful but I do appreciate the free spring rolls. Now on the website it shows a reservation required for $5 ramen days. It did not say required before I went. I did not have a reservation. That is because most places don’t take them in phoenix/Scottsdale except for special holidays.
Quality of food: 1/5 Just take a look at the photos you can see that this was not even worth the $5. I can make better ramen and I don’t even like to cook. The spring rolls were good. Not the worst not the best.
Happy hour/ Specials:3/5 The special are great. But they are not worth the price otherwise I would rank higher. Even with the incredibly cheap price points I would rather pay more for better food.
Menu Variety: 4/5 Lots of menu options but not an overwhelming amount. I do like that they vegan and vegetarian options.