Zen Garden: The best (because it’s the only) Asian vegan restaurant in Louisville

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I want to like Zen Garden on Frankfurt Ave. After all, it’s not like Louisville has a wealth of Asian vegetarian restaurants. The first time I went there, my meal of eggplant in some kind of nasty syrup was more or less inedible.

Tonight was marginally better. I studied the yelp reviews where everyone swears by the crispy shitake mushrooms. The mushrooms were dry and leathery, and the rice without character of any kind. It was served with some tasty cut celery and asparagus and al dente carrots. The vegetables partly redeemed it.

All this might be bearable if they had a really good wine list and some Herbie Hancock and David Bowie alternating on a turntable. (God, I miss El Camino.)

Next time I’ll try the Singapore noodles and green beans. Some of them passed by me and they looked good.

Rating withheld because I’m an incredibly generous person who needs to give it a third try.

February 28, 2018 UPDATE:

The soft spring rolls were edible. It’s basically a salad of carrots and lettuce wrapped in rice paper and served with peanut sauce. Not bad. And more filling than you might think.


Stay away from the hot and sour soup. It is made with the same ubiquitous thick, clear sweet and sour sauce that appeared on my eggplant. I’m pretty clear that a see-through broth should be the texture of water, more or less. This stuff stands up to a spoon.

I’m trying not to think about what you do to clear sauce to make it thick. Corn starch?

  • Two stars for food
  • Three stars for atmosphere. You can see how bad the lighting is in the top photo. But it’s clean, so that’s worth a star.
  • Four stars for being a quiet meeting place.

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