Zentan Transitions to a Japanese Izakaya

Incoming chef Yo Matsuzaki introduces a new menu and theme.

New chef Yo Matsuzaki will take Zentan in the direction of a Japanese izakaya. Photograph by Rey Lopez.

Zentan has made several big changes in recent years, transitioning from celebrity chef Susur Lee‘s restaurant to a pan-Asian eatery helmed by Jennifer Nguyen. Nguyen departed in August, and now a new toque is taking the restaurant in a different direction. Yo Matsuzaki, who began last week, will release a more traditional Japanese menu for lunch and dinner, following an izakaya theme. 

The Shikoku, Japan, native comes to DC from a corporate chef position at Northern California’s Ozumo, as well as stints at Nobu. While sushi and sashimi will remain on the menu, Japanese small plates will become the focus at dinner. Matsuzaki says he plans to serve charcoal-grilled robata skewers and larger proteins like pork ribs and whole fish, as well as dishes inspired by his home country such as slow-braised meat with miso and dashi broth. Look for more noodles, as well, especially spicy ramen at lunch. 

Matsuzaki’s izakaya-style dishes will begin to roll out soon, with a full menu change projected for November. The five-person, omakase-style chef’s table will resume on October 16 for $65 per person.

Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.