100 Best Restaurants 2010: Zentan

No. 70: Zentan

Cuisine: What Wolfgang Puck is to America, Susur Lee is to Canada—a culinary mastermind who fuses French techniques and Asian flavors into an exuberant brand. Lee—whose now-shuttered Lotus, in Toronto, was acclaimed as Canada’s best restaurant—was recruited to DC’s new Donovan House hotel after Todd English backed out, and his signature take on Asian fusion is on vibrant display: a Szechuan-style duck that pairs a confit-like bird with a stack of lotus pancakes; a mountainous slaw of 19 ingredients tossed tableside; a platter of dumplings concealed by a lacy pancake; and dazzling plates of unconventionally dressed nigiri and sashimi.

Mood: The hotel is owned by the fashionable Thompson Group, and the moodily lit dining room bears the hallmarks of that boutique chain: slick and garish and populated largely by businessmen dining alone and high rollers in search of a good time.

Best for: Sushi. The freshness of the fish and the detail that goes into its preparation make this one of the area’s best spots for sashimi and nigiri.

Best dishes: Singapore slaw; robust hot-and-sour soup; sashimi of scallop, yellowtail, mackerel, and fatty tuna; Brick Roll of spicy lobster, barbecue eel, and scallop; duck with lotus pancakes; crispy garlic chicken, a fine-dining take on the stir-fry classic; black cod with miso mustard; molten chocolate cake.

Insider tips: Consider forgoing a main course and instead front-loading your meal. Some entrées rank among the most expensive in town, and the most successful meals here tend to be cobbled together from various parts of the menu: a soup, a salad, a couple of starters, and above all sushi.

Service: ••

Open Monday through Friday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Saturday for breakfast and dinner, Sunday for breakfast. Expensive.

See all of 2010's 100 Best Restaurants 

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.