Ellen Bhang, one of the Boston Globe's Cheap Eats reviewers, tried Arlington's new vegan-kosher, pan-Asian restaurant, Zhu. From the proprietors of Veggie Fun in Providence, Zhu opened in July and has been busy, the critic found.
A Korean bibimbap-inspired, "lovely composed" platter is "very good," with julienned seitan, avocado, steamed spinach, chickpeas, and kimchi. Singapore rice noodles are "excellent" with "zippy yellow curry" and firm tofu.
Faux spare ribs, one of many meat-substitute dishes, are springy, but too sweet. Also overly sugary is a lemongrass soup, in which Bhang finds a nice spice, but no trace of lemongrass flavor. A brown rice pudding dessert is a better example of a sweet dish.
Heading toward the waterfront, the Globe's Devra First finds "generally well-conceived and only sometimes well-executed" food, along with a sometimes overbearing brand of hospitality. She gives restaurateur George Aboujaoude's newest venture one-and-a-half stars out of a possible four.
Saganaki, a salty, fried cheese appetizer, "drowning" in Greek liqueur and served with an incongruent raspberry compote, gets a takedown from First — and gets taken off her bill. Complimentary pita bread is "excellent," though its accompanying spreads vary. Hummus is too chunky for First's preference, but it is well-seasoned. Baba ganoush is the right texture, but too smoky. She describes the eggplant as "immolated."
Horiatiki, a salad, is improved with strips of okra, "crisp and earthy against the refreshing combination of tomato, feta, red onion, and mint." Another salad, salt-roasted beets with tahini and mint, is oddly shredded and under-seasoned.
A few dishes are inconsistent over multiple visits, and "too many dishes here" are "tasty yet forgettable." Grilled octopus with fennel, caper berries, and orange is not one of them; it is "tender, flavorful.... light and clean." Moussaka is also a good order.
The large bar is "one of the better places to drink Greek wine," and cocktails are inventive, yet, like her whole experience, off balance some nights.