The Out and About team was in the mood to try something new. Since first seeing their signage go up on Fayetteville Street, we have been wanting to try Zinda. They officially opened for lunch last week, so we jumped at the chance to try things out.
The Location: 301 Fayetteville St. in Raleigh, next to The Oxford. The ambiance was very modern with lots of green and purple accented throughout the space. The doorway that leads upstairs was nicely lit too. Upstairs they plan to host music and other events. Overall, the venue has a trendy feel that fits with the cuisine.
The Food: "New Asian" cuisine with twists on traditional dishes like lo-mein and fried rice. Items contain Vietnamese, Thai and even Malay-Indonesian influences. They even dip into Southern cuisine with their version of shrimp and grits (made with shrimp and Chinese sausage atop lemongrass grits) on the dinner menu.
The Meal: We each tried something different.
Kathy: I started with the Vietnamese spring rolls, which were served with a sweet chili dipping sauce. The rolls were crispy and filled with pork, shrimp, crab and cellophane noodles. The shrimp was the dominate flavor for me, but I could also detect the crab. The flavors blended nicely with the dipping sauce, which was perfectly sweet. For my entree, I had the Mee Goreng, described as the Malay-Indonesian version of lo-mein. It contained egg noddles tossed with carrot, cabbage, tomato, beef, chicken and shrimp with a sweet soy sauce. The sauce wasn't sweet enough for me, but overall the flavors blended nicely. The shrimp were rather large as well!
Caitlin: Instead of ordering one big lunch, I decided to order a soup from the appetizer menu and a small plate. I picked the curried carrot and ginger soup, which was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten. It was creamy and savory, although after the soup cooled off I felt like I was eating baby food (but delicious baby food). For the rest of my lunch I ordered the vegetable samosas. The fluffiness of the potatoes inside didn’t make the dough mushy, so the texture was perfect. They were served with two different sauces: a sweet cranberry and a tangy cilantro. The food was delicious and filling, for a very reasonable price.
I returned for dinner a few days later to try out a different menu. I ordered rosemary chicken kabobs, and they’re now my favorite dish from Zinda. Chunks of chicken marinated in a slightly spicy yogurt sauce, served with two pieces of naan bread and the same tangy cilantro sauce as the samosas. The chicken looked like it should be very spicy, and I was expecting the spiciness to intensify as I ate, but it wasn’t overpowering at all. Again, the meal was very filling, and actually was cheaper than lunch!
Tara: I was torn between getting the small plate, Pepper Chicken Flatbread, and the entrée, Pad Thai. I was very hungry and was afraid that the small plate would not fill me up. The waiter was very helpful in helping me choose which dish to go with and assured me that the small plate would be more than enough. He also brought up the argument that you could get Pad Thai anytime, anywhere, but the Pepper Chicken Flatbread was one of a kind. I was pleasantly surprised when the pepper chick flatbread came out. It was the perfect amount. I had told him that I wanted to get the Pad Thai because it was spicy so he brought out two of their spicy sauces with my flatbread that really put it over the top. The dish was gorgeous and it tasted as good as it looked. The flatbread was topped with chicken, peppers and raita and with the spicy sauce added it was a perfect lunch dish that was not to heavy but definitely filling.
Lisa: Even “to go” and an hour later, it was delicious. It was well packed in tight containers which kept me from having curry and tofu all over my front passenger seat. The taste was really balanced and the tofu added a nice weight and protein. The rice was served on the side, but near the end of the meal, I just poured it all in the same bowl and enjoyed! The Macau Yellow Curry is definitely a vegetarian Best Bet. My only complaint, if you can even call it that, is that the soy sauce packets included seemed to be original style, rather than my preferred low sodium variety. Guess I’ll need to get a bottle of low sodium for the office for my next quick lunch run to Zinda… which just might be next week.
Jodi: I could not make the trip to Zinda, but that made the delivery of my "Shaking Beef" by a colleague all the more welcome. Just the smell emanating from the bag made my stomach growl in anticipation. "Shaking Beef" is probably intended to be a eaten by hand. I could imagine piling the small, marinated chunks of beef into the lettuce cups, topping with pickled red onion and smothering in sweet, spicy sauce. Eating at my desk made that a no-go, which allowed me to linger longer over each morsel, sampling the possible combinations of ingredients and sauce. The small plate was a perfect size (and price at $9.50) for a late lunch. I could barely stop between bites to sing the praises of the flavors. And I can't wait to return to Zinda to try the rest of the menu.
The Service: Our server was knowledgeable about the menu and helped guide us on what items to select.
The Bill: Depending on what you get, you could be spending a bit for lunch. Caitlin's selection of samosas and soup came in under $10, but Kathy's pick set her back $18. The spring rolls were a little steep at $6 for just two of them.
The Verdict: With a variety of intriguing items on the menu - shrimp and grits, we are talking about you - we want to go back.