CLOSED: ZenKitchen

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 31 reviews )



634 Somerset Street West (at downtown), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1R 5K4

Re-opened July 31, 2014 after brief closure, this is a full service vegan restaurant that offers gourmet meals created from organic and local produce. Features an extensive wine list. OCT 2014 REPORTED SHUT AGAIN, NO PLANS TO RE-OPEN.

Category: Vegan, International, Japanese, Organic, Beer/Wine, Asian Fusion, Gourmet

Reviews (31)

First Review by jessienotjames

Best vegan meal I've ever had - Edit

I ate here in March 2014. The food was fantastic - easily the best vegan meal I've ever had. Just gorgeous. When we arrived the waitress asked if we had any food intolerance's and we said no but we are vegan and she replied so are we! It wasn't advertised as vegan so we were really pleased.

Sadly it looks like it might now have closed for good:(

Cons: closed down?

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Met my high standards ! - Edit

Very good place, I went only once but the meal was absolutely delicious (lemoned creamy sauce with mushrooms on gnocchis, leeks and greens)and the smiling staff. Have been treated like a princess.
Not cheap though, but excellent quality of food. They also get me a piece of grilled yellow Japanese watermelon with spices, surprising and very tasty, and a plate of bread with butternut squash aside.
Too bad the desserts where not as good (or maybe because I ate too much I couldn’t eat no more !) : the brownie was too dry (or I should have wait for the coconut ice-cream to melt maybe) and basically a bit too sweet for the other desserts (lemon tart and peanut butter/chocolate tart). Highly recommended.

Pros: Nice place, Interesting menus, Very friendly

Cons: Opening hours, Not cheap

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Amazing! - Edit

Food was excellent! The desserts are to die for!
It was my first time there, but will be returning over and over. Service was superb. Don't let the exterior fool you
Updated from previous review on Monday May 19, 2014

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Best Vegan Meal EVER!! - Edit

My family enjoyed one of the meals we've ever had… both pre and post becoming vegan. So creative and tasty. Hard to believe it was even vegan. I highly recommend this restaurant. Staff was friendly. Owner was welcoming and went above and beyond to accommodate our family's food intolerances. Even went so far as to ask about any special needs when we were making a reservation and had a copy of the menu edited with possible options when we arrived.

Pros: Food, Service, atmosphere

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Vegan Paradise - Edit

This place was perfect in every way. And not just by vegan standards (vegans you know what I mean). Service was top notch, food was amazing, atmosphere was pleasant and cozy. Easy to find for an out of towner. Highly recommended.

I had the ploughman's, and my husband had the oyster po boy. YUM YUM YUM!

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Amazing! - Edit

Absolutely one of the best restaurants I tries as vegan. Everything is 100% vegan and DELICIOUS. The place is very nice and the people super kind. I LOVED everything. Excellent, the tofu was the best I have ever tried and the seitan with polenta was amazing.

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Fantastic - Edit

Don't be fooled by its unassuming exterior: it was at ZenKitchen that my partner and I had the best meal of our weeklong trip to Ottawa and Toronto.

We had a tapas plate of fried oyster mushrooms to start with, then the sope and ravioli for mains. The mushrooms were excellent, crispy but light, and went beautifully with the dipping sauces. The ravioli were great as well; the sauce was delicious. The sope comprised the sope as the centerpiece and all the regular fixings (rice & beans, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream). The sope itself was very tasty, but the accompaniments were slightly disappointing - they weren't bad at all, just average. I've had better. Then we had the chocolate cake for dessert to finish off our dinner. It was scrumptious - chocolatey and perfectly sweet.

Service was prompt and attentive. Our water was constantly refilled, and all our food came out in a timely manner. Initially I found the $90 bill (a beer and tip included) a bit hefty - a dollar or two off each dish would have been appropriate - but then when I took into consideration the complimentary tidbits served throughout the meal (the appetizing azuki bean hummus with country bread at the beginning and the divine chocolate truffle at the end, just to name two), this price point was actually quite reasonable.

Pros: food, service

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SUPERB! - Edit

wow...i've never had vegan food like this, or really, food period. hands down the best meal. ever. they had homemade gf vegan ravioli...need i say more? i haven't had any ravioli in forever, and it was just blissful. loved the appetizer sampler (potato chips, various homemade pickles (not something i usually would eat, but they were amazing), summer rolls, apple butter tofu w/ peanut sauce...holy mole! and the deserts were to die for. they were so happy to accommodate allergy requests and make sure everything was perfect. such nice people, and amazing fresh, organic, local food :D.

Pros: local, organic, gluten free, delicious food, nice vibe

Cons: not wheelchair accessible

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Unsurpassed brunch - Edit

Came here for brunch, and wished we didn't have to return home to Toronto.

The brunch was spectacular, though I wasn't expecting much. Zen Kitchen makes me think of run-of-the-mill Chinese-Buddhist veg cooking. But with smoked tempeh bacon, a complex gravy and homefries - such attention to detail and balance - I could immediately tell that the chef was a cut above, and indeed, Caroline Ishii trained at Millenium in San Francisco among other legendary US restaurants. There is no other chef in Canada who comes close. Ottawa has no idea how lucky it is.

This place needs six or seven stars, at least.

Fun fact, the owners were the subject of a TV show called 'The Restaurant Adventures of Caroline and Dave' which aired on the W Network.

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Delectable - Edit

Been here a half dozen times, always delectable. I just don't like the close proximity of tables to one another and what I find to be an overly loud scene when busy.

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Okay - Edit

We showed up without a reservation for an early lunch (11am) and the restaurant was mostly empty, so we were seated without a problem. The table had crusties on it, so the waitress came and wiped my side down, but not that of my guest. I ordered the zen burger with poutine. The tomato and pickle were fresh, for sure, and I was so pleased to get a whole wheat hamburger bun. The bun was huge, hard to get your mouth around (although I could do it), and I couldn't find any flavor from the burger. I eventually gave up and ate the burger separatly, but I couldn't detect flavor. There were some lightly deep fried onion strips on top, and eating them individually I could almost detect some flavor. The poutine had a lovely texture, but nothing resembling cheese curds, which is great for me as a vegan. If I had been a meat-eater, I would have been completely irritated. Just a token amount of daiya (one might say miserly) which I liked. However, it was over the top salty. I must say, the staff took excellent care of me, when I inquired about spiciness, and were able to leave that out of everything that might have spiceiness in it (maybe that is why the burger didn't have any flavor? But a burger really shouldn't be spicy).
My guest had the zen burger also. It fell apart in her hands. Her salad was excellent.
Given the name is Zen, I would have thought the ambiance would be simple and peaceful. It had an element of that, but also the feel of a busy downtown nightclub/franchise, with disorienting patterns from floor to ceiling and at least 3 different styles of lighting. I'd give it a 3 happy cow, but because it is overrated, I'm going to give it a 2. It is fantastic to have a resto where you don't have to worry about the vegan eligibility of ingredients. That said, I'm in no rush to go back. I'll make my own will taste better and I'll try it on a bed of greens to balance all the heaviness.

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Interesting food - nice to try something different - Edit

We ate here on a Thursday evening; the restaurant is not large and it was very busy. I had reserved ahead and asked for a quiet location but that is not really possible in a restaurant this size. Aside from the noise, the food was great with quite a complex mixture of tastes. Suggest you go hungry since the food is filling. We had an Ottawa area beer which was good. The staff made us feel very welcome. It was not a cheap evening but good value nevertheless.

Pros: Great food, Positive staff

Cons: Noisy

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Very Creative - Edit

Since becoming vegan, I haven't had eggplant parmigiana or Caesar salad. This was my opportunity at 100% vegan Zen Kitchen. Both dishes were wonderful and very reminiscent of the originals but much more interesting, lighter and healthier. Every table was full so highly recommend reservations. Service was excellent and very attentive from server and Dave, who made our drinks.

Pros: Healthy, Creative, Excellent service

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Perfection - Edit

Caroline has set the standard - vegan cuisine has done arrived. The Zen Kitchen is sophisticated, welcoming, and the food... the food is divine.

We are regulars and are constantly amazing.

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Highly recommend - Edit

Best vegan food in Ottawa! The brunch is amazing! My favourite is the Sopé but then again every thing had from there had been fantastic!

Pros: All vegan, Excellent variety

Cons: Can be very busy. Need a reservation.

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Spectacular - Edit

Best restaurant in Ottawa, best vegan food in the province. High class food but nice and relaxed atmosphere. Pricey but worth it.

Pros: Amazing food, Great service

Cons: Pricey

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rinzai - Edit

in toronto i have sampled the cuisine at Graceful Vegeterian at Pacific Mall. And, this place has food of a similar quality and finesse. And, a more lively setting on Somerset in Ottawa's Chinatown to take a stroll after the nourishing joy food. We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful restaurant in Ottawa! Despite the sophisticated vegan dinning the patron chef and servers are quite warm and welcoming and happy to make you feel at home in this dinning room called kitchen !

Pros: Friendly Warm, Exquisite Simple, Delightful Satisfying

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lovely - Edit

I have probably been to Zen Kitchen four to five times now and the consensus is pretty clear: Zen Kitchen is awesome. The atmosphere is quite nice and the owners have done a lot with a small space.

As for the food, my favourite meal so far has to be the ravioli. It's smoky, creamy, and somehow still completely vegan. Very impressive.

The other food highlight was definitely the Sunday brunch. I enjoyed the buckwheat pancakes while my partner had the breakfast burrito. We both left satisfied.

Wine pairings were also great. I'm new to the wine world and I found the service extremely helpful.

Really, the only unfortunate thing I can say about Zen Kitchen is that because the bathrooms are up a flight of stairs the restaurant isn't wheelchair friendly or particularly accessible.

Do try to enjoy this restaurant if you have the chance to.

Pros: helpful staff, delicious food, great atmosphere

Cons: not accessible, can be expensive

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