Zen Sai is a recently opened Japanese style Izakaya restaurant located at the Essex Hotel on South Beach. Once the sun goes down, the restaurant is a beautiful sight to behold. It is illuminated by colored lightening which enhances the zen like dining environment. This is greatly appreciated while being seated on the intimate veranda, however they do have indoors tables and bar service.
Zen Sai brings a unique social dining experience to South Beach with tapas-style plates of freshly prepared dishes and robata-grilled items accompanied by an extensive sake and cocktail list.
Zen Sai has the friendliest, most knowledgeable staffs on South Beach. I have never encountered such superb service. Our server was so nice, there was no way he could have possibly been originally from Miami. He explained all the dishes in great detail, many of which came with a story. He was also extremely helpful in suggesting menu items. He was just all around awesome.
We started off our meal with the Garbanzo Spring Rolls with cilantro curry cream. It was delightful; a very were fresh and light snack!
You cannot go to Zen Sai without ordering one of their inventive cocktails. My boyfriend ordered the Warrior with Jack Daniel’s, Chambord and raspberry purée and I couldn't help but trying the Ginger Sake Mojito. They were amazing cocktails made with fresh and fabulous ingredients.
Next up we had the Spicy Rock Shrimp with Serrano aioli and worchestershire sauce. It was delightful! The shrimp tasted like lobster and the sauce had a nice spicy flavor.
While we were waiting for our next item, we were presented with some edamame. We thought that it was a mistake and sent it back, but our waiter came to the table and explained that it might be a little wait for our next course, so he gave it to us on the house so we could have something to snack on while we waited. I thought that was very sweet.
It actually wasn't much of a wait before our Scallion Ribeye arrived. It was scrumptious. The beef was tender and well seasoned. The scallion was an added necessity so please order the one with it versus the one without.
Our last item was the King Crab Sushi Roll. It was a well prepared, original, and delicious roll.
In addition to our cocktails, we also ordered a bottle of Seven Spearman Sake. I'm not a sake connoisseur so I can't tell you about the quality, but the interesting part was it's presentation. Our server poured the drink for us and explained to us that drinking the excess poured over in the box at the end of the meal encourages prosperity or something of that nature (I have a short attention span).
We concluded the meal with their amazing Fried Bread Pudding and ice cream dessert as suggested by one of the busboys. He was so right, it was incredible! It was blanketed in cinnamon!
Dining at Zen Sai was an incredible experience, I can't express in word how much I loved it.
1001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139