About Zen Box Izakaya

602 Washington Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55415
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A Ramen-centric Izakaya owned by Chef & Wife in Downtown Minneapolis' Mill District.

We are devoted to the pleasures of Craft Ramen & Japanese comfort food.
Zen Box Izakaya is THE place for ‘Good Food, Good Drinks and Good Company’.
Established since 2011.

Dining Style:
Casual Dining

Cuisines:
Japanese, Tapas / Small Plates, Comfort Food

Hours of Operation:

Lunch: Monday - Friday: 11:30am - 2:00pm.
Dinner: Monday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 12:00am.

Cross Street:
Portland Ave

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$30 and under

Payment Options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(612) 332-3936

Website:
http://zenboxizakaya.com/

Parking Details:
Street Parking: You can find metered parking along Washington & Portland all of the meters are $1.00 per hour, payable with Credit Cards. Meters are free after 10:00pm daily. Let us know if you need change.

Ramp Parking: There are several parking ramps and surface parking lot nearby which range in price from $1.50 on evenings & weekends to $4/first hour on weekdays.

Public Transit:
Metro Transit Lightrail: Metrodome Station.
Metro Transit Bus No. 7 & 22

Executive Chef:
John Ng

Private Party Facilities:
Available for groups up to 25-50.

We can host sit-down dinners, buffet-style meals, or cocktail hour.

We have unique seating options, atmosphere and privacy levels, whether your event is birthday party, business meeting, holiday party or corporate functions.

The choice is up to you!

Private Party Contact:
General Manager: 6123323936x

Additional:
Banquet/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Beer, Delivery, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Late Night, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Private Room, Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Restaurant Photos

Zen Box Izakaya Ratings and Reviews

5
4
3
2
1

4.4

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4.5

service

4.3

ambience

4.2

noise

Moderate

95% would recommend it to a friend

Loved For

Hot Spot
Minneapolis - St. Paul
Best Value
Twin Cities / Minneapolis
Hot Spot
Twin Cities / Minneapolis
Best Restaurants in Downtown / North Loop ›

fit for foodies (83)
neighborhood gem (54)
hot spot (41)
See All
good for groups (38)
great for lunch (35)
late-night find (28)
special occasion (22)
vibrant bar scene (14)
kid-friendly (10)
romantic (8)
great for outdoor dining (8)
great for brunch (5)
scenic view (3)
notable wine list (1)
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Newest
76 reviews
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Great spot for some izakaya fare...parti ...

Dined 6 days ago

Great spot for some izakaya fare...particularly love the mussels (order extra bread!) and the Takoyaki! Impressive sake list and a cool atmosphere...hard to pass up for a casual but cool place to eat.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, neighborhood gem
food5
ambience5
service4

Always great food and service whenever I ...

Dined on May 16, 2016

Always great food and service whenever I go. I've been here so many times and they never disappoint. Final was able to take my brother here and he absolutely loved it.

food4
ambience2
service3
value2

Got a reservation and when we arrived we ...

Dined on May 13, 2016

Got a reservation and when we arrived were seated at a table right in the middle of the restaurant. Figured if I got a reservation I would get a semi secluded table, but don't call me bitter. We were also not allowed to order off the happy hour menu as we were 4 feet away from the bar area in the 'restaurant' area. We came early to get happy hour deals before dinner but we only ended up ordering one drink with dinner because we did not receive the happy hour deal! Offer your happy hour deals everywhere! Food is very good but the restaurant operations could be run much better.

Tags: fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
food2
ambience2
service5
value2

The ramen was good, other items were meh ...

Dined on May 6, 2016

The ramen was good, other items were meh. Good service but got seated in a party room alone for some reason. Happy hour is only for the bar unfortunately.

food2
ambience3
service4

Food was very salty and some items were ...

Dined on April 30, 2016

Food was very salty and some items were just disappointing. For example the shrimp skewers seemed to be frozen shrimp dumplings that were deep fried. Just not a "Wow"!

food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Congratulations John and Lina!

Dined on April 29, 2016

My wife and I are regulars at Zen Box and enjoy each meal more than the last. When we appear we are treated as honored guests and the owners personally come out to greet us. The wait staff, who are stable and long term team members, know us by name, and take the time to remember our favorite items and cocktails. It is not only a chic upscale experience, but has the dichotomy of a local, welcoming feeling as well. This congenial air of welcome, the Germans refer to as "Gemuetlichkeit." The curious mementos and fusion of antiques and pop culture is kind of a Japanese version of Grandma's in Duluth. My wife is Japanese and has a very discerning palate. She won't eat at a different Japanese restaurant. John and Lina study and compete internationally to keep their food items authentic and of the highest quality. I lived in Japan for four years, and travel there annually. I can say that their version of Izakaya can compete with any in Japan for quality and value. What is offered at Zen Box is culinary art, not just a quick meal. Eating there is a robust experience you will talk about to friends positively.

Tags: great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
food5
ambience3
service5

Food was great! Service was fantastic. ...

Dined on April 29, 2016

Food was great! Service was fantastic. Quite loud, but that's fine.

food5
ambience4
service4
value4

zen box = fun new food

Dined on April 28, 2016

Loved the food, completely unknown items in Japanese cuisine available in MN. Loved the idea of small plates to try many different ones. Definitely going back.

Tags: fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Awesome place

Dined on April 23, 2016

We love the Zen Box esp for date nite dinning. Great food and the service is outstanding.

Tags: kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem
food2
ambience1
service1
value3

Just so-so

vip
Dined on April 16, 2016

Our food was ok, not great. Service was very slow to nearly nonexistent. We have eaten at this restaurant many times before but never on a Saturday night. Maybe that was our mistake, it may be easier for them to maintain quality if it is not as busy.

food3
ambience4
service5
value4

Great Service!

Dined on April 16, 2016

VERY impressive service at Zen Box. The food was decent, but I was very please by the service. Great vegan options

Tags: fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, hot spot
food5
ambience5
service5
value4

Cookwear

Dined on April 15, 2016

It was our second time there. The deep fried avacado is to die for. Another good experience.

Tags: great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
food5
ambience5
service5

Awesome food and environment

vip
Dined on April 13, 2016

Awesome food and environment

food5
ambience5
service4
value5

Super Schweet Japanese Food

Dined on April 9, 2016

Great food and awesome atmosphere. I've had the ramen and yakisoba at Zen Box and was extremely pleased with both. The restaurant is full of energy, and people running around. Exactly how it should be (unless you don't like that... and stuff)!

Tags: fit for foodies, great for lunch, hot spot
food3
ambience4
service4
value4

Good for not authentic Japanese Restaurant

Dined on April 2, 2016

Better than other non-authentic Japanese restaurant. Ramen was good but soup was too little. Japanese curry was too sweet but love the fact they used big chunk of veggies. (Most place make it too small)

food5
ambience5
service5
value5

good spot for Japanese food!

Dined on March 26, 2016

Zenbox is always the best Japanese food here. Well priced and the food is generally great. I recommand their ramen and short rib, they are just brilliant!

Tags: kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for lunch, late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
food5
ambience4
service5

RAMEN! Tonkotsu is great. Not the most ...

vip
Dined on March 24, 2016

RAMEN! Tonkotsu is great. Not the most convenient place to get to from the suburbs but I'll definitely make up some excuses in the near future.

food5
ambience5
service3

Great great food. Octopus is a must try ...

Dined on March 22, 2016

Great great food. Octopus is a must try and ramen was extremely delicious. Unfortunately service was not so friendly or personable which ruined the experience. Fix the service and all is good.

food3
ambience4
service3
value2

Some of the food was great, a couple thi ...

Dined on March 19, 2016

Some of the food was great, a couple things (shrimp) had no seasoning/flavor. We ordered a Japanese whiskey flight. They didn't have the flight so we just ordered a shot of the Japanese whiskey. The waitress didn't tell us it was $28 for a shot, we felt it would have been curtsey to inform us before hand. Overall a fun place.

Tags: fit for foodies, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
food4
ambience4
service5
value4

Authentic!

Dined on March 19, 2016

Overall, great food. Very flavorful. Had the Ume rice ball. Loved it! Also the pork ramen. Really enjoyed the food and will be back. Our server was also very attentive.

Tags: fit for foodies
food5
ambience5
service3
value5

Great food, ok service

vip
Dined on March 18, 2016

Food was really great, but it took a long time for us to have our order taken and our food arrive at lunch on a Friday.

food5
ambience4
service5
value4

Amazing service and food

Dined on March 14, 2016

The service here was amazing. My girlfriend and I stopped by for lunch, and we were out in less than an hour. The food was ready incredibly quickly, and everything was delicious. The servers were attentive, and very friendly. I'd recommend this place to anyone.

Tags: great for brunch, kid-friendly, good for groups, great for lunch
food2
ambience3
service2
value3

Meh.

Dined on March 5, 2016

We went to Zen Box because it was on the Minneapolis St Paul Magazine's list of top restaurants in the area. We both ordered from the specials list as well as a few appetizers. We arrived right as the restaurant opened on Saturday night and were promptly greeted. Our server seemed very busy, but took care of all of our needs. We ordered the short ribs, which were great, but have been to other places in the metro area with better ramen than Zen Box and left disappointed because we had heard other great reviews.

Tags: fit for foodies, great for lunch
food4
ambience1
service2
value2

Food was really good!

Dined on March 5, 2016

Server was slow and not very attentive. I had made reservations but the table wasn't ready and we were seated in the entrance, which was extremely crowded and noisy.

Tags: fit for foodies
food5
ambience4
service5

This place is great. I like their food. ...

Dined on March 2, 2016

This place is great. I like their food. The ramen is one of the best. Amazing braised dishes like the pork ribs and pork belly. I have always had a good time dining here.

food4
ambience3
service4
value4

Japanese food at its best

Dined on February 21, 2016

The restaurant is relatively but comfortable. For the reasonable prices, the food is terrific and authentic. The service is great and the staff is knowledgable and helpful. We highly recommend it!

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Great place

Dined on February 21, 2016

This is a great restaurant and will recommend to friends and family

Tags: fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Amazing ramen and authentic izakaya food

Dined on February 16, 2016

We had the tonkotsu ramen, gyoza, onigiri, and chuhai. It was amazing, filling, and authentic. We spent a few years living in Japan and this is the closest thing to our local izakaya there that I've seen in the upper Midwest USA. Great dinner and late-night spot!

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, late-night find, scenic view, neighborhood gem, hot spot
food3
ambience4
service4
value4

Dinner Night With Friends

Dined on February 16, 2016

Very good meal with friends. The beer choices were unique and all food was very good! The waitress we had was outstanding and made great suggestions.

Tags: good for groups, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem
food5
ambience4
service5
value4

All around Excellence

Dined on February 12, 2016

This was the second year that I celebrated my B-day dining at Zen Box Izakaya, (did not inform the waiter because I didn't want him to think we were expecting special attention), and I'm happy to say that both experiences were wonderful. Our server, Nic, was fantastic and helped guide us through the menu and answered all of our questions. He gave us the perfect balance of attention and privacy so we could enjoy our meal. Another server/bus boy(?) supplied us with silverware in place of chopsticks without making us feel like "dining newbies"(we are practicing for next time!). The bartender, sorry I don't have his name, was kind enough to make me the the drink special that had been featured the previous weekend, Urashima's Last Memory, thanks again to Nic for asking him if he would do it. Everything we ordered was delicious but our favorites were the Buta No Kimchi and the Chicken Kara-Age. (Last year I had the ramen special that featured duck and battered fois gras and that was also outstanding). The green tea mochi ice cream made a perfect finish to our meal and has become my latest food obsession. Kudos to the owners, chefs, and the rest of the staff at Zen Box.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, neighborhood gem
food5
ambience5
service4
value5

Amazing Management

vip
Dined on January 30, 2016

I called in to Zen Box to not only increase the number of people in my party, but also to make sure that there would be ramen available, since we were going specifically to eat their ramen (which is delicious). It is usually just me and my significant other here every week, but it was my birthday, and wanted to share one of my favorite restaurants with my friends. It's not a large restaurant, but the were ready to go when we go there. On top of that before I called to make sure ramen was available, the management couldn't gaurantee it, since ramen is made fresh every day, but instead he offered to call a half an hour before our reservation to see if there is enough ramen left, which he did and it was awesome and great customer service. I really appreciate the staff and how much they are willing to do for their customers.

Tags: fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
food5
ambience4
service4
value5

WEnt for my birthday - it was fabulous. ...

Dined on January 23, 2016

WEnt for my birthday - it was fabulous. Staff friendly and helpful. Reccomend reservations for groups > 2

Tags: good for groups
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Beef Tataki!

Dined on January 23, 2016

My sisters were in town, we went out! It was also my first time trying out this place. I've ever only heard great things. I'm a fanatic about Beef Tataki. Saw it on their menu and ordered it ASAP! It was marvelous! The sauce that came with it had a little kicker to it, so not too spicy at all for those who just want a bit if spice. We also had their Ika Squid, I believe this is the name of the item, it came as an appetizer with kimchee. We order the pork donburi -- which is fantastic as well.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, hot spot
food4
ambience4
service3
value3

Cool spot, great for sharing

Dined on January 23, 2016

I was jonesing for some good ramen on a winter night and wanted to get some shareables with my friends. I'm glad I made a reservation, it was pretty busy. This place has a nice style to it and a great energy for drinks and dinner. We ordered a lot of small plates and shared them all, which is my favorite way of dining. The Tonkotsu Ramen was awesome; the broth was rich and the noodles were perfect. The Takoyaki was decent but the batter was a little bit thicker than I would have liked. The standouts for me were the Ramen, Buta No Kimchi (pork belly w/kimchi), Gyu Motsu Nikomi (braised beef brisket), and the Shumai Tempura (shrimp dumplings). The friends I was with aren't big drinkers but I did have an awesome cocktail, I wish I could remember what it was. I'll definitely be back with the b/f to try more drinks and dishes.

Tags: fit for foodies, hot spot
food5
ambience4
service5

Great food. We tried several dishes and ...

Dined on January 22, 2016

Great food. We tried several dishes and liked them all. We will be back for sure.

food5
ambience5
service4

The food here is unique and I love it. T ...

Dined on January 17, 2016

The food here is unique and I love it. The only thing that lacks sometimes is getting drinks or having refills but honestly best Japanese food in Minnesota hands down.

food5
ambience5
service3
value4

delicious

Dined on January 10, 2016

Other than the fact that I don't drink so I ordered something that sounded good and they brought me a mojito, I had a good time and the food was delicious!

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, vibrant bar scene
food5
ambience4
service4
value5

A Great Experience

vip
Dined on January 8, 2016

When we first walked in it was crowded for a downtown lunch. After we ate, we understood why. We shared a couple of plates: pork belly and brown rice and the short ribs. All very good. The miso is good too. The gyoza where a bit of a disappointment. We will definitely be back.

Tags: kid-friendly, fit for foodies, romantic, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Wonderful dinner!

Dined on January 1, 2016

We went for New Year's Eve because my boyfriend had a gift card. He's a lover of ramen so he certainly was not disappointed! I was also pleasantly surprised at the list of gluten free items. Our waiter was witty and fun, and we loved the atmosphere. Overall it was a great experience!

Tags: fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem
food2
ambience4
service4

Good small plates, disappointing ramen.

Dined on November 20, 2015

Tried a few of their braised dishes. Nikujaga and the Buta No Kakuni were very tasty. Miso Spareribs were ok, not a lot of flavor but the meat was good. The Tonkotsu Ramen was not that impressive. The broth was the best part and that was just ok. The meat they give you for the ramen is dry and flavorless. The noodles are a disappointment and taste just like the 10 cent packages. Also tried the miso ramen and the broth was very sweet and tasted like peanut butter. I couldn't even eat that one. Maybe that is their style. Overall, would not go back. The food was not worth it. Maybe I am spoiled from living in NYC and having the best ramen at my disposal.

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