a peek inside the fishbowl

02 Oct, 2014

Welcome to a new Fishbowl patron: ZenKitchen (plus a bonus promo code for you!)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Fishbowl patrons|Ottawa

ZenKitchen is open!

ZenKitchen is open!

I am both happy and sad to report that I had my first meal at ZenKitchen the other day. I’m happy to have found this Ottawa treasure and sad, well, I’m sad because it took me so long to figure it out.

ZenKitchen is the newest patron to join the Fishbowl family, and I am thrilled to bits. I want to show you one of my new favourite dishes:

ZenKitchen Pad Thai, photo by Yannis Souris

It’s a gluten-free Pad Thai and is served with tofu made two ways, seasonal vegetables, cashew-lime dressing, vegetable spring rolls, and tamarind dipping sauce. It is So. GOOD. (It goes without saying that I’m drooling as I type this blog post. Ack.)

I had a lovely chat with David Loan, who founded ZenKitchen in 2009 along with Chef Caroline Ishii. The restaurant closed unexpectedly this past May due to some tax issues and was resurrected under new ownership at the end of July. (For interested parties, the new owner is Michaël Gazier, who you can read more about here if you’re keen.)

The focus here is the food, with a side of great service. David is so passionate about it all, and the restaurant truly goes above and beyond; everything is fresh fresh fresh, and much of it is handmade using all natural ingredients. There are no GMOs, preservatives and chemical additives, it’s organic and as locally sourced as possible.

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot in the days since my visit: what do I want out of my restaurant experience? It’s a big question.

There’s something else you need to know – and some of you may know this already – ZenKitchen is a vegan restaurant, in fact, it was the first entirely vegan restaurant in Ottawa. Their mission is to provide vegan comfort food that satisfies everyone, including omnivores such as myself, and also caters to the gluten-free crowd and those with allergies.

Sidebar: I actually debated mentioning all of this, because for me it’s almost unimportant, and I worry it might freak some people out. (I hope I don’t offend any vegans who happen to be reading. Sorry vegans! For a vegan or GF family, to have a comfortable place to go and trust the food is VERY important, and I don’t want to diminish that at all.) I’m not a vegan, but I certainly get it. I just want food, good food, that’s prepared and served with love and care and passion and will make my mouth sing and my tummy happy. And you know what? I don’t need a huge slab of beef on my plate in order for that to happen.

Will carnivores like eating at ZenKitchen? Yes. Definitely.
Will he/she miss his/her meat? I seriously doubt it.
Is eating more veggies a good thing? I think we all know the answer to that. (!)

Other things that are good to know:

  • David is a sommelier and has a lot to say about wine, so a visit to ZenKitchen is a great opportunity to try a glass of something new. Don’t be shy, just ask! Seriously. You will be so glad you did.
  • ZenKitchen is re-launching their lunch and brunch menu in the coming weeks. Look for a #dailylunches pic from there soon!
  • The best way to stay on top of happenings at ZenKitchen is via their Facebook page. For example, you may want to keep up to date about their new Wednesday night jazz series, new menu items, and other special news.
  • They’re on Twitter too!

And here’s something cool, Fishbowl readers have a special password they can use at ZenKitchen. WOOT. The next time you’re at ZenKitchen, use the code word “fishbowl” for a complimentary dessert with a purchase of an entree. You may find it strange to whisper this strange phrase to your server, but hey, if there was a slice of their peanut butter and chocolate pie on the line I’d get over that pretty quick. ;)

3 Responses to "Welcome to a new Fishbowl patron: ZenKitchen (plus a bonus promo code for you!)"

1 | Dave Loan

October 2nd, 2014 at 11:37 am


We’re thrilled to be part of the Fishbowl experience! Thanks for all your kind words, Andrea. We’re looking forward to seeing you again soon!


2 | andrea tomkins

October 2nd, 2014 at 4:37 pm


Thank you Dave! It’s so good to have you on board. I’m already looking forward to my next visit. :)

3 | Stefania

October 8th, 2014 at 11:39 am


Love ZenKitchen. So happy that they’re still around and relaunching. It’s one of the best restaurants in Ottawa. No doubt.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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