Some Ziing New

Photo by Tenaya HillsThis week's fine-dining experience takes us to the exotic burg of Fullerton and its restaurant row on Harbor Boulevard, where Ziing's "Asian-influenced" Chinese bistro makes its home. Okay, I'll come clean: I was actually in town to do a little antiquing, hoping to expand my vast collection of vintage erotica. But after scouring Fullerton's many curio shops, I found no bawdy pics to purchase. To avenge my disappointment, I resolved to treat myself to an Asian-fusion feast at Ziing's, where I'd been meaning to stop since its July inception.

Ziing's owners consulted a feng shui master during the design, and the results seem to vindicate their expenditure. The restaurant is long, sleek and stylish, with the reception desk between the main dining room on the street side and the bar-dining area facing the parking lot. Ziing's has no front or back, but rather opens out organically in both directions allowing patrons to enter from either side.

A floor of expensive Brazilian purple heart wood extends beyond the main dining room into the spacious bar-dining area. Booths and tables are to one side; to the other, a gorgeous black bar that can seat up to 18 persons. Behind this sits an immense, pistachio-green liquor shelf resembling a Buddhist temple. In its "doorway" is a gold-and-emerald Chinese gong, which the bartenders ring whenever a beautiful woman crosses the threshold.

I took a booth opposite the bar where I could spy on the hip, young crowd in attendance. Little touches caught my eye: on each table sat tin candle holders with Chinese characters cut into them; a television in the corner played classic Japanese monster flicks with Godzilla battling Mothra, and so on.

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A specialty-drink menu offers such concoctions as Fung Fu Fizz (Mum's champagne with Alize) and Confucius Sez (Jägermeister, butterscotch schnapps and pineapple juice). But it takes a better man than moi to imbibe one of these and keep down a Chinese meal! I would have adored a glass of plum wine, which I've always found a perfect match for most Asian cuisine, but there was none on their list, an oversight I suggest they remedy posthaste.

My other quibble has to do with the selection of sakes, which could be improved by replacing Hakusan with another brand. Hakusan is an American sake and not very good, so offering it as one of the two sakes on your list is akin to serving Boone's Farm by the glass. I opted for a couple of bottles of Tsing Tao beer instead.

Some compare Ziing's to the more corporate P.F. Chang's, but both the menu and décor at Ziing's are far superior. The former is the child of Peter Petro, a formally trained chef of exceptional skill. Indeed, the appetizers were works of art fit for the Prado! This applies particularly to the miso-seared ahi, which was sliced and arrayed on a black plate with a red spoon of Shanghai sauce, mixed greens, a cube of wasabi and shiitake-ginger "chopsticks" that look like Vienna roll cookies. The ahi itself was exquisite, and I could have eaten two more plates handily.

My other starter? Pork dumplings, deep-fried a crispy brown with what seemed like a slight sugar glaze on the outside, but which the management assures me was not. These were some of the best I've ever had, even in NYC's Chinatown, if you can believe it. Per my custom, I tried two entrées: Cantonese chicken and spicy orange beef. Both were excellent, with the black-bean sauce of the former being the most traditionally prepared. I had them tone down the orange beef to just my level of spiciness, but be forewarned: if there's a "Z" beside the item on the menu, that means it's extra-hot. Chef Petro doesn't play, people.

For dessert, or the "happy ending," in massage-parlor parlance, I chose to follow the path of the Tao of Chocolate, a dessert almost as lovely to gaze upon as would be Pfc. Jessica Lynch nude, if we're to take Larry Flynt at his word. The Tao consists of a gooey chocolate cake accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a spoon of crème anglaise, a garnish of sliced strawberries and a cookie wafer stuck in the middle. Certainly it eased the pain of going home sans pornographie.

Ziing's, located at 209 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, is open Mon., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Tues.-Wed., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sat., 4-11 p.m.; Sun., 4-8:30 p.m. Full bar. (714) 526-5777; Dinner for two, $51, food only. All major credit cards accepted.

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Ziing's Bistro and Bar

209 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832


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