Local eats: Zheng Asian Bistro
Zheng Asian Bistro, at 35 Market St. in Glenwood Springs, has a wide variety of food in a friendly atmosphere near the best shopping center outside Glenwood’s downtown core.
With catering, sushi, lunch, vegan, gluten-free and dinner menus, plus impressive wine pairings with every dish, Zheng Asian Bistro has something for you.
Susie Jimenez: What is the favorite dish at Zheng? What’s so unique about it?
Mike Mercatoris: You would have to ask our customers what the favorite dish is! As for the top-selling dish of all time: General’s Chicken. We take great pride in this one and boast that if there was an award for General’s Chicken, we would win it hands-down. It is a traditional dish that Chef Zheng has taken to a whole new level. What used to be “leftover” scrap has, under Henry’s approach, become a first-rate dish. Sourcing organic, hormone-free chicken and using the best cuts of protein along with a lighter tempura batter and his family’s recipe for the brown sauce, Henry has been able to take “traditional” to “extraordinary” with an overall recipe customers beg us for.
SJ: Give us a little bit of background on Chef Zheng.
MM: Chef Ming Xing Zheng was born in a small village outside of Fuzhou, China. He attended the Chinese American Cooking School and upon graduation was placed at the Mountain Dragon in Snowmass Village. During the off-season, he would return to New York and continue to study the culinary arts. He studied at the Culinary Institute of America for ‘pan-Asian cuisine and sushi chef.
SJ: Do you serve wine? Have you found wine being hard to pair with your dishes?
MM: We have recently been told by one of our wine purveyors that Zheng sells more wine than any other Asian restaurant on the Western Slope. The pairing of wine with our menu is truly Gentiana’s specialty. She has paired by the glass and bottles for all menu items. Yes, I mean everything — every single one of our items on our menu she has paired with a wine on our list. No joke. I asked her your second question here and she said: “At first I thought it very hard, now I laugh at the challenge. I revel in a customer that wants a perfect wine for their sushi roll or entree or appetizer, and I am confident I have it in house.”
SJ: What do you want people to take from the flavors? Spice? Tang? Or ingredients?
MM: All of the above. Every dish has ingredients, and with those ingredients comes specific flavor profiles. We love when a customer can taste the exact spice of Thai chilies, we love it when a customer can taste the tang of kaffir lime leaves. You really cannot have one without the other (flavors vs. ingredients); each person has such unique taste buds it is always exciting to see what people note as their favorite in a dish. We use ingredients and flavor profiles from all over Asia, and our focus in bringing those flavors out is the ancient art of Pao Wok. No grill. No oven. High heat intense wok fired cuisine. This in itself has much to do with bringing spice, tang and all ingredients to life.