Since moving to Oak Cliff in November, I’ve been exploring the neighborhood for other options other than Spiral Diner, and I have been fortunate enough to discover a gem of a restaurant that features a decently sized vegan menu. Zen Sushi is a small modern sushi bar nestled in the Bishop Arts District with a nice selection of plant based sushi rolls, appetizers and entrees. Since the first time my boyfriend and I tried this restaurant out, we have been back two or three times. I have yet to find a dish that has disappointed me; the sushi rolls are artfully crafted, and the cocktail drinks are always amazing. Everything always seems fresh and full of flavor, and the atmosphere is very chill and relaxed. Founder and executive chef Michelle Carpenter has over 25 years of experience working in very high profile sushi restaurants, so it’s no wonder that Zen Sushi has won numerous awards and has now become known as one of the best sushi spots in Dallas. You can look at Zen Sushi’s vegan/vegetarian menu here, which you can request from your waiter upon your arrival.
Zen greets you with a modern decor that still feels warm and cozy. With comfortable cushioned booths and intimate tables, it’s a great place for a date night or even a business dinner as it never gets too loud and the music is always subtle, never blaring.
The Bishop Arts District is full of restaurants and bars with signature cocktails, and Zen Sushi is up to the stiff competition by offering up some of the best drinks in town. The drink pictured above is the Lychee Sangria and it is my current favorite, although their Dark and Stormy made with house made ginger beer is an exceptional second.
The Summer Rolls are a crispy wrap filled with creamy avocado, sweet mango and carrots served with a flavorful and light sweet sauce. As simple as the ingredients are, these are a delightful starter.
Here we have the Vegetable Gyoza. These dumplings are perfectly crispy and chewy, with a salty and savory veggie filling. Request without the ponzu sauce, and ask for another vegan friendly option.
The Tofu Lettuce Wraps are really incredible. The lettuce is always very fresh, and the sauce they glaze the perfectly-fried tofu in with onions and red bell peppers, is the perfect combination of spicy and sweet. Order with a side of Vegetable Fried Rice with no egg; it’s made with fresh vegetables, not frozen. Then, get ready for some prime noshing.
The star of the show, of course, is the variety of vegan-friendly sushi Zen offers. From left to right, on this plate we have the Beet Xalapa, Lotus, Shiitake, and Green Dragon rolls with Inari Zushi. You may assume that this is the extent of their vegan sushi, but there’s even more options that I haven’t tried, yet.
Out of these rolls, my favorites are the Beet Xalapa, which has a unique flavor combination with the crunchy subtle sweetness of the beets and the pleasantly sour spike from the thinly sliced lime garnish. The Green Dragon is also a favorite, but beware because this roll has an incredibly spicy bite. Not for the tame of heart or tongue! If you can handle it, it’s quite the experience.
So next time you make a day trip to Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff, put Zen on your go-to list. It won’t disappoint!