Top Chef Masters’ Richard Sandoval Showcasing Test Kitchen Hong Kong to San Juan at Zengo

Richard Sandoval is in the midst of a star-turn in the latest installment of Top Chef Masters on Bravo, where he’s competing against a group of culinary leaders, including another District standout, Bryan Voltaggio. Of course, for Washington, D.C., diners, Sandoval’s cuisine is already well established, and he’s continuing to offer innovative and unique fare at his local restaurants, including Zengo, located in D.C.’s Chinatown.

Zengo is currently showcasing its latest installment of the Test Kitchen Series, Test Kitchen: Hong Kong to San Juan. The concept behind Zengo’s Test Kitchen is to pair the flavors and traditional dishes of one Latin and one Asian country with a special lineup of dishes and drinks, and this is the fourth Test Kitchen series that Zengo has put together, with previous pairings including the likes of Philippines and Argentina.

The Test Kitchen: Hong Kong to San Juan menu includes two small dishes and two entrees, along with a special dessert and three cocktails.

The menu choices include Foie Gras-Plantain Mofongo Shumai, an intriguing Asian-style dumpling stuffed with the flavors of what’s traditionally a hearty, fried entree in mofongo; Hong Kong Roast Chicken, served with Chinese broccoli and tomato salsa fresca; and Whole Crispy Fried Fish, served with Malanga puree, black bean vinaigrette and watercress salad. The fish was well cooked and flavorful, with all of the fun of a whole-fish presentation, but diner beware of bones which managed to sneak into the dish.

The standout of the Test Kitchen menu is the Adobo Sweet and Sour BBQ Pork Ribs, with wonderfully tender, succulent, falling off the bone meat, served with addictive fried papa rellena stuffed with jack cheese and bacon.

The three cocktails include Gingered Bourbon, which was easy-drinking but stronger on the ginger than the bourbon; a refreshing Strawberry and Lemon Mojito, with strawberry puree which gave the drink more texture and substance than a traditional mojito; and a Lychee Bellini, with sparkling sake and lychee puree which added a great floral aroma and flavor profile to the beverage.

If you still have any room, the specialty dessert offered with this lineup is a Coconut Tapioca Pudding served with lemon sorbet and guanabana espuma.

Zengo has also recently introduced a new chef de cuisine, Jason Streiff. Streiff started as sous chef with Zengo in 2009, and so is already intimately familiar with their dishes and flavor profiles, and their exciting endeavors and challenges such as the Test Kitchen series.

Test Kitchen: Hong Kong to San Juan will be available at Zengo through September 30, with each Test Kitchen item marked by a “TK” on the menu.

This article was first published on Yahoo Voices on July 29, 2013