If it wasn't for an initial 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.
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.
The lunch combo on the menu is outstanding considering the price and speed. The menu has been updated recently and now features Hunan options as well.
After the initial success of Zing Zing's, owner Nan “Shaun” Xu was encouraged to expand. Xu took over ownership of East Tucson Chinese restaurant China Bamboo with the hopes of bringing an "authentic Chinese food culture to more people in the world". Both establishments have contributed to our growing niche of restaurants offering authentic Chinese cuisine in Tucson.
Zing Zing’s is located at 1122 E. Sixth St. and open daily from 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. For more information, visit beyondmenu.com or call (520) 867-8898.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...