The who: Hospitality veterans Alex Maufroy, Benoit Nanquette and French-Vietnamese chef Yung Ngo-Hong (Nobu and Mr. Chow) collaborate on Now and Zen, an Asian spot in the South of Fifth neighborhood.
The space: The former Red Ginger space retains its Buddhist-chic look with bamboo marble flooring throughout, hand-carved wood panels with patterns derived from sea fans in the coral reefs of Thailand, natural coral walls, and a glowing onyx bar.
The dishes: South East Asian-inspired dishes with a focus on Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese cuisines. The menu is divided between soups, dim sum, tapas, grilled items and larger mains. Prices are on par for the posh neighborhood with starters averaging $14 and mains in the $20-$30 range.
It’s best to go with the Vietnamese specialties here since the chef looks to his French-Vietnamese roots for inspiration for dishes of traditional pho beef noodle soup and halibut wrapped in a banana leaf and marinated in coconut milk. Sushi maki rolls can be had the traditional route or “riceless,” wrapped in seaweed for a low-carb alternative.
The crispy duck salad is festooned with pomegranate seeds while the crispy shrimp are seasoned with Szechuan pepper. Thai dishes include a coconut galangal soup, Thai beef salad and chicken coconut curry. Chinese food lovers will go for the Cantonese style rice, bok choy with oyster sauce and the dim sum selection, which includes classic shrimp shu mai, chicken pot stickers and truffle and pork dumplings
Bottom line: A pan-Asian spot in SoFi with a dim sum brunch and Vietnamese dishes.