Tweatup Review: Zheng Oxford
When news reached us of a new Chinese restaurant opening in Jericho, we were a little intrigued but not in any rush to visit. Then we heard some great reviews and a not so great review. These piqued our interest a little more but on hearing the owner, Adam, had moved from his previous job at Sojo, one of our favourites, we decided it was time for a visit. Not just any visit, a tweatup with eleven of Oxford’s finest foodies!
A quick look at the menu beforehand was interesting. Rather than just your standard Chinese restaurant fare, this includes a dim sum section, Malaysian, Singaporean, Szechuan, Cantonese and Shanghai! Would they be able to carry off such an extensive menu?
As with Sojo, we’d arranged to let the chef choose what we would eat, with a selection of vegetable dishes for those non meat-eaters.
First up was Malaysian beef satay skewers. These confused me a little as I initially thought the meat had been finely chopped and then shaped, with almost a pre-chewed texture! Apparently they had been marinated for a long time, giving them a soft feel which I personally wasn’t keen on. I didn’t know at the time but the peanut sauce is described on the menu as mild, I would have liked a little more kick! We also sampled Sen Chai Bau, lettuce wraps with crunchy vegetables, and prawn dumplings – both of which were nice. Next came the crispy duck which was very good. Plenty of pancakes, spring onions, succulent duck and crispy skin but more sauce was needed. As well as the Sen Chai Bau, the vegetarians were served salt and pepper tofu, a classic done well, but they felt a little deprived compared to the range of dishes the omnivores had.
After that, it all went a bit hazy! I swapped seats so the vegetarians could sit together and ended up sampling whatever happened to come down our end of the table. There was rice and noodles, a plate of piled high char siu pork and sliced duck, both of which were fine but not amazing. A bowl of seriously spicy beef rendang went down well but the most popular dish was the cereal prawns. King prawns, fried in a light batter with a crispy, cereal like coating, a hint of chilli and a flavour not dissimilar to crispy seaweed. These were DEVOURED!
The huddle of vegetarians had a veggie version of Sojo’s famous dry fried green beans, and were none the worse for the lack of meat. As mains, there was a vegetarian ma po tofu, and an aubergine and potato dish. Both were good, although a little uniform: the tastes and textures of both dishes were rather similar.
We all agreed that the restaurant space itself was a little odd. Loud, hot and very noisy, if we’d realised we would have asked to be seated upstairs where it’s apparently more welcoming. There was a definite consensus that we’d happily go back for takeaway, but not to eat in. And everyone of us wanted those cereal prawns again!