maître d’ - Chi’Zen, Doha
Written by Rachel Morris
The Chinese Year of the Dragon signals an auspicious time for the dining scene in Doha, with the inclusion of fine dining establishment Chi’Zen in its restaurant ranks.
Opened in late 2011, the newest branch of the Zen restaurant franchise – which has outlets in Hong Kong, China, Mexico, and London – Chi’Zen doesn’t reinvent the wheel with its take on food, rather choosing to focus on Chinese regional cuisines updated for the 21st century.
Favourites such as the fiery Szechuan kung pao chicken, salt and pepper calamari, and crispy wasabi prawns are given a makeover with a contemporary styling.
But those looking for other familiar dishes can find shrimp dumplings, an array of dim sum, steaming seafood claypots, as well as the ever-popular signature dish, the gleaming Peking Duck which is served in two courses with those delicate pancakes.
The menu takes a more adventurous turn with braised bird’s nest soup, and dishes incorporating locally caught seafood such as hammour (grouper) and Sherry fish.
Monosodium glutamate, or MSG as it is most commonly known, has been added to food for more than 100 years. As a flavour and in the right amount, MSG has the ability to enhance the taste and appearance of food.
Cantonese food, especially, has adopted the additive. But Chi’Zen has taken a proactive stance and banned the compound, which comes in powder form, preferring to let the flavours of the ingredients speak for themselves. The restaurant also carefully sources suppliers who practise the same philosophy.