Chef Richard Sandoval's Zengo Debuts New "Test Kitchen" Menu

Midtown East, NY -- Where does one go to find an indulgence of 400 Tequilas and New York City’s only Tequila librarian? Step into the tri-level Zengo, at 622 3rd Avenue, and be swayed by an infusion of Latin-Asian ambiance, romantically lit by an 8-foot wrought iron chandelier handcrafted in Guadalajara. Zengo is the creation of Bon Appétit Restaurateur of the Year Chef Richard Sandoval, whose accolades include one of the Best Chefs by New York Magazine, and Mexico’s Toque d’Oro.

National Spicy Guacamole Day!

Today (November 14th) is National Guacamole Day, which means you can end your work week with a kick.

Guacamole has stood the test of time: it originated with the Aztecs in the 16th century (the word guacamole comes from the Nahuatl ─ühuacamolli, meaning “avocado sauce”), and is still popular to this day. But what makes spicy guacamole so good? The answer lies in the science of taste. Virtually all spicy foods contain capsaicin (pronounced cap-say-a-sin), a natural irritant produced by the seeds of plants in the genus Capsicum. All the fire and heat that spicy food aficionados love comes from capsaicin. In nature, the compound acts as a defense mechanism against being eaten, but, as if often the case, nature didn’t count on the strange proclivities of humans. When we eat spicy foods, the capsaicin binds to the thousands of tiny pain receptors on our tongue (called VR1 receptors), which triggers the brain to signal a burning reaction. So, interestingly, the burn we get from spicy food is actually all in our head: while we may feel like our tongue is on fire, no physical damage has actually been done.

Zengo's Test Kitchen a Culinary Masterpiece

Last night, Joonbug was invited to Zengo's Test Kitchen: from Peru to Malaysia. Once per quarter, Chef Richard Sandoval and his team explore the cuisines of one Latin American and one Asian country in depth and create an innovative menu that combines the two in surprising ways. This quarter's countries were Peru and Malaysia, and the guests were served a set menu of two cocktails, three appetizers, an entree, and dessert. The food was served family-style, and with the press seated in clusters at tables in a designated section, the evening felt like a dinner party. The atmosphere, though sleek and upscale, has an undercurrent of warmth that fosters good conversation to pair with the delicous food. You can sit at the bar, get a table with a large group, or esconce yourself with a date in a booth.

Summer Sign-Off: Hit Up These Places

These last few days of summer are precious so take advantage and do all things summer: enjoy the outdoors, bqq, and cool off with something cool 'n' sweet. Check out all of these New York City restaurants offering up just what you need!

Folks who want to relax in Washington Square Park should order pizza picnic boxes from Pizza Roma on Bleecker Street in the West Village. These clever carryout containers, named after parks in Rome, are filled with the restaurant’s signature Roman-style pizza al taglio (square pizza by the cut), Paninis, fresh summer salads, and more.

To host a barbecue feast near the East River Esplanade or in your own backyard, turn to Neely’s Barbecue Parlor on the Upper East Side. The restaurant offers hefty picnic baskets to feed three ($89) and an even larger option to feed five ($149), both of which come with items like chopped beef brisket sandwiches, spicy pinto beans with burnt ends and warm peach crisp.

Happy National Watermelon Day!

Today we pay homage to the melon of all melons...watermelon! Restaurants and bars around the city are whipping up dishes and libations made specially from your favorite fruit.

Two very special dishes will be added to Anthony Ricco's menu at Spice Market in celebration of this special day. Try out their Thai-inspired Watermelon Gazpacho ($8.50) with watermelon, Thai chilies, tomatoes, cucumber, and red wine vinegar. They are also serving delectable Chocolate Covered Watermelon Slices ($8) dusted with crushed, spiced almonds.

8 Ways to Celebrate National Daiquiri Day

In honor of National Daiquiri Day, we've rounded up some of the best rum-soaked 'tails for you to try out around good ol' NYC. From mojitos to martinis, we've got a list sure to get your whistle wet, so get ready to start drinking after work today!

Barrio 47’s Barrio Especial $14
Signature Daiquiri: Mount Gay Barbados rum infused with Lemongrass & Vanilla Bean, Passion Fruit puree & Lemon sugar

Mojito 47 $14

Santa Teresa rum, muddled cucumber, mint, lime, topped with Prosecco

Happy National Ceviche Day!

Just in time for summer entertaining and for the third year in a row, June 28th is honored as National Ceviche Day! Ceviche has existed for over 500 years, bringing a sense of freshness and purity to the palate. Ceviche is a popular seafood dish in the coastal regions of the Americas, particularly in Central and South America. The dish is typically made from fresh fish marinated in citrus juices and spiced with chili peppers. Experience some of NYC's best chefs' creative interpretations of Ceviche at the below venues:

Chef/Owner Cosme Aguilar/Luis Aguilar

Cool Off with Cool Treats

Sweltering heat us upon us New Yorker's and there's only one way to cool off -- and it doesn't involve jumping in the Hudson River. Restaurants and bars are now offering up cooling treats that are perfect for a hot summer's day. Starting June 4th, Spice Market is kicking off the outdoor drinking season with Patio Pitchers. Pitchers of their signature Ginger Margarita of Passion Fruit Sangria, which are normally $48, will be a steal for $24 4-7pm during the week when you sit on the outdooor patio. Highpoint Bar & Bistro will be serving up two very different watermelon-themed treats.

Spooktacular Cocktails

Scrap the vodka cran this year and whip up some of your own chillingly delicious cocktails, all suited to the costume of your choice this Hallow's Eve. Even if you aren't a cocktail guru, no need to scream...just head to one of the hot spots listed below to try some of these dangerous concoctions.

The Bloody Shine

2 oz Original Moonshine
3 oz tomato juice
1/2 oz fresh lemon
3 dashes worcestershire sauce
2 drops tabasco
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and shake. Pour into glass and add ice if you prefer. For all you victims of foul play this Halloween, this will be the perfect pre-game cocktail to try out with your deadly friends. You might not see it on the menu, but you can ask for this hauntingly delicious drink at Lure, Hill Country, Macalleria and Cafe Luxembourg.