Soup Noodles with Saozi and Xiangxi Stir-Fried Beef at Zing Zing's (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Just south of East Sixth Street and convenient for University of Arizona students, China Pasta House is the go-to place for house-made dumplings. We recently discovered Panda House, which developed a reputation for their house-made noodles and Sichuan dishes. Shortly after that, we received a tip on Zing Zing’s at 1122 E. 6th St., literally next door to Panda House.
If it wasn’t for the tip, we wouldn’t have known Zing Zing’s existed. The facade features a glass garage door covered with photos of food, while the name Zing Zing’s is hidden in the center. The interior features a sleek modern minimalist design with about 25 seats and what appears to be exclusively Chinese students occupying tables.
Walk up to the counter to order. Staff is friendly, but English skills vary. The menu features a long list with exclusive regional dishes such as Xiangxi Stir-Fried Beef ($14.99) and Soup Noodles with Saozi ($9.99). They’re good, but they’re not the star.
Get the Fast Food Combo with one meat and one vegetable ($7.99) and choose from the Panda Express-like heat lamp trays. Instead of super-sugary Orange Chicken and generic vegetables however, Zing Zing’s offers options such as braised pork belly and stir-fried eggplant and peppers.
Combo A with eggplant and pork at Zing Zing’s (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Even though the dishes are under a heat lamp, they still tasted fresh. The eggplant was soft, sweet, and packed with soy umami. The braised pork belly had those same qualities, but also had a slight chew along with the fragrance of star anise and clove.
Each table has a bowl of hot chili oil, a soy sauce dispenser, and a black vinegar dispenser. The sauce isn’t really needed since most dishes are well-seasoned, but the noodle dishes benefit from a boost of acidity from the vinegar. And everything can benefit from the lip-tingling chili oil.
While we haven’t discovered a “wow” dish off the menu yet, the lunch combo is outstanding considering the price and speed. We’ll try the mapo tofu and bok choy next time.
Zing Zing’s is located at 1122 E. 6th St. For more information, call (520) 867-8898.