Off to the side of a three story, modern and stylish office building, a corridor leads to a gem of a Japanese restaurant on Marine Drive in West Vancouver. Zen is a secluded and tranquil dining room with glass walls drawing the eye outside, through the trees and beyond the neighboring buildings to the Pacific -- even as cool rain keeps one cozily inside. My table's focus was the exquisite bonsai Japanese maple planted on the veranda that shimmered with the day's mist and then rainfall. I could have stayed in that corner all day, sipping perfectly brewed green tea and nibbling on warm and delicately sauced Prawn Dumplings...suggested by Sarah, my greeter and server, to warm me up on an unexpectedly chilly summer afternoon. Joined by friends in a gradual stream, and changing tables to accommodate all of us, my dining experience became "less zen" and more of a boisterous celebration. Our feast began, with Sarah again suggesting courses upon request, welcoming new arrivals and keeping us well served for three delicious hours. Our dishes included: the freshest sockeye salmon sashimi I have ever had...more of those delicate dumplings...yellowtail, California and spicy tuna rolls, a dynamite Dynamite roll wrapped around prawn tempura, an excellent Miso made of a lovely fish broth...more salmon...and lusciously simple desserts. Zen does have green tea ice cream, but we ordered for the table a molten brownie with coconut ice cream and a crispy and sallty caramel almond "pastry stick" with vanilla ice cream. Sarah kept our tea cups full and hot, our water glasses full and ice cold...our different beer and wine selections straight...and cheerfully and attentively kept watch over our needs. We had a restless teen with us who enjoyed the pace of the meal as much as we did. I would highly recommend this attractive and tranquil, stylish restaurant. I do not agree with one reviewer that it has the ambiance of a "movers and shakers" kind of place. We found it quietly friendly and relaxed with impeccable and gracious service.
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