Zanyu Asian Noodles is a fast-casual restaurant offering authentic Asian noodles with influences from Thailand, Malaysia & and other Asian cuisines. The restaurant is the most recent addition to Raleigh’s Lafayette Village on 8450 Honeycutt Rd. Career Chef Michael Bongiorno is the chef and owner behind Zanyu. Chef Bongiorno is not new to restaurant openings as he has played an integral role in several openings during his career with Hyatt International as well as two of his own restaurants in Thailand. Chef and his charming wife hosted a couple of fellow foodies and me for dinner recently where we had the opportunity to sample various dishes during their soft opening.
My first impression of Zanyu is that there is nothing fast-casual about the flavors & presentation of the dishes we sampled. One of my favorites, the Khao Soi Noodle looks like it belongs on the cover of Bon Appétit. Egg noodles are served with a Northern Thai chicken curry soup and are topped off with tangled crispy noodles, cilantro, fried shallots and pickled mustard greens. Lime and roasted chili sauce are served on the side. I enjoyed the different textures in this soup as well as the spicy curried broth. The Khao Soi Noodle was not only my favorite, but the favorites of my fellow foodies friends who joined me for dinner.
Tofu is a food item that I typically do not order at a restaurant – unless, I am dining with a vegetarian. I was extremely surprised when I tried Zanyu’s Nori Agedashi tofu with dashi appetizer. It is dressed with shredded daikon, bonito flake and grated ginger. The appetizer was delicious and great to share. However, next time I order this appetizer, I do not plan to share it!
Exhausted of this below freezing weather, like I am? Zanyu has other hot noodle/soup options, including the Wanton Noodle Soup. All of Zanyu’s wanton’s are made in-house by Chef Bongiorno. I have never cared for wanton soup precisely because the dumplings have a gummy and overcooked texture. Once you eat one of Zanyu’s wantons, you will notice the freshness of the hand-made dumplings. This soup is accompanied with thin egg noodles in chicken broth and is topped with char sui BBQ pork, bok choi, fried shallots and a side of pickled green chili. For warmer days or days you are not in the mood for a soup, this dish also comes in a dry version where the egg noodles are tossed in caramelized dark soy sauce and crispy dumplings.
If you are not in the mood for pork or chicken, the Pan Seared Ahi Tuna with Soba might be up your alley. The tuna is encrusted with white and black sesame seeds and sits on top of chilled buckwheat noodles. The chilled soup is topped with ponzu dashi, edamame, shiso leaf and micro greens. I personally can eat soup on hot and cold days, but for those of you that don’t eat soup on warm days, this chilled dish is a great option.
Zanyu would not be a noodle spot unless they had Ramen on the menu. The Pork Belly Confit Miso Ramen has lean caramelized pork belly, miso dashi, ajitsuke egg, scallion, inari tofu and nori. If you prefer your pork belly a little on the fattier side, you might want to ask if they can accommodate your order.
Zanyu’s selection of beverages include water, teas and soft drinks. I sampled the Golden Oolong Tea, Jasmine Green Tea and an unsweetened Bold Green Tea. They were all delicious, but my favorite was the Golden Oolong Tea, which was mild in flavor and naturally sweet. In the near future, wine by the glass will be another beverage option offered at Zanyu. When you visit the cozy fast casual restaurant, you will find that the menu is small but has a variety of noodles and soups to accommodate all tastes. If you are not quite sure what to order, I highly recommend my favorites: the Nori Agedashi, the Khao Soi Noodle and the Golden Oolong Tea. If you have visited Zanyu, let me know what you have tried! Comment below.