Zenwich to Open in the Central West End This Spring

click to enlarge Zenwich will specialize in gourmet Asian-inspired sandwiches and ramen. - Courtesy Chai Ploentham
Courtesy Chai Ploentham
Zenwich will specialize in gourmet Asian-inspired sandwiches and ramen.

Chai Ploentham has already made his mark on our local culinary scene with his sushi hotspot the Blue Ocean (6335 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-726-6477) — and now he's ready to introduce a new culinary concept to St. Louis.

This spring, Ploentham will debut Zenwich (8½ South Euclid Avenue), a ramen and sandwich shop, in the Central West End, as first reported by Sauce Magazine.

Located in the space formerly occupied by Taze Mediterranean Street Food, Zenwich will serve a sandwich menu similar to the flagship in Elmhurst, Illinois, which Ploentham purchased last year. (The concept has been in business in the Chicago area for almost a decade.) In addition to a selection of Asian-inspired sandwiches and wraps, the fast-casual spot will also serve a selection of ramen, something not currently offered at the other outpost.

"When my friends come to Chicago and visit [Zenwich], they've all said, 'It's so good; you have to bring this to St. Louis. It would do so well; nobody is doing this there,'" Ploentham says. "It's different flavors on sandwiches — it's not just sliced ham. It's house-marinated meat, and all of our sauces are made in house. The menu is really small — we only have six items — and all of them can be totally vegetarian or in a gluten-free quinoa-rice wrap."

In addition to sandwiches and wraps packed with fillings such as Thai barbecue pork, Korean cheesesteak and spicy garlic shrimp, Zenwich will offer a small menu of ramen, a specialty at Ploentham's Blue Ocean. He hopes to soon add ramen to the menu at his Chicago spot as well.

"At Blue Ocean we serve a lot of ramen — almost every day we sell [tons of] bowls of the spicy beef ramen," Ploentham says. "We use noodles made from Missouri rice, and people love it. And nobody does much ramen in the Central West End yet, so I'm thinking if I can add ramen to the sandwich shop, that would [work well]."

To complement the eats on offer, the shop will also serve beer and wine. "We're going to have a lot of fun beer," Ploentham adds with a laugh before adding that Blue Ocean debuted a new cocktail menu last week.

Ploentham says he's targeting a spring opening for Zenwich — possibly as early as March. In the meantime, you can keep updated on Zenwich's progress by following its official Facebook page.

"Our sandwiches are gourmet," Ploentham says. "We don't have a lot of menu items, but each one is high quality."

Follow Liz Miller on Twitter at @lizzaymillah. We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected]
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