Zato Bar & Grill

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20609 SR 410
Bonney Lake, WA 98390
(253) 288-9286

American, Asian, Burgers/Hot Dogs, Japanese, Seafood, Steakhouse
Credit Cards Accepted, Full Bar, Kid-Friendly, Outdoor Dining
Avg. Meal:

The Review

Reviewed by: Jake and Jason de Paul

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday-Saturday
Cuisine: American and Asian - steaks, burgers, seafood, appetizers, sushi, salad
Scene: Casual, nice. Family-friendly restaurant with lounge

ANNOUNCER: Originally an Asian-focused restaurant, Zato Bar & Grill in Bonney Lake has been buffeted by the winds of change - new managers, menu rewrites, staff changes - on its way to celebrating its one-year anniversary this month. Looking toward consistency and developing regular dining clientele, the "Eat. Drink. Social." motto of Zato is brought to life with both Asian dishes and a wide variety of American fare that focuses on crowd-pleasers while offering items for more adventurous eaters, too. A full bar with specialty drinks and tableside cocktail service, and an open inviting lounge with flat screen TVs and a patio that is open during warm weather invites easy social interaction, while high-backed booths provide comfort and sense of intimacy for more private socializing and dining.

JASON: First impression? I liked the high ceiling, the soft lighting and the way the entrance looks right onto the bar at people laughing and having a good time. Our server Sami was one cool dude. We asked for recommendations and he walked us through his favorites, deftly explaining the pros and cons of remaining menu items after asking what we liked.

JAKE: We went for Sami's faves - hot wings and drumsticks with a smoky sauce that was a little tart and a little spicy with a citrus hit at the end. No thick breading disguised the taste of the meat, which also allowed  the skin to crisp up. Carrots, celery, somewhat chunky blue cheese and dill ranch dressing came with. Romaine lettuce, red cherry tomato, radish sprouts, green onion shoots, avocado and crisp cucumber acted as a bed for fanned-out, luscious, red, sushi-grade tuna slices with the tiniest of seared edges coated in seasoning salt and toasted tan and black sesame seeds. A portion of curly, cold, white, Japanese somen noodles tossed in a sweet gingery dressing really set off the ahi salad. 

JASON: I loved the wasabi ranch dressing - Hello, nasal burn! - and vowed to make it at home to eat with everything. Those noodles were the bomb, too; an extra helping of those instead of the blah mashers that came with the steak would have been better. The bland mashed potatoes  seemed whipped hard like they'd stolen something in a foreign country. As for garlic in the potatoes ... where?

JAKE: The steak? Uh-maz-ing! So tender and perfectly medium rare with masterful grill marks - if only all steaks at all restaurants could be done so nicely. Server Sami boasted that "At Zato, the same quality steak provider that supplies Asado in Tacoma is used." Unseasoned, possibly previously frozen green beans with bits of red bell pepper were a sad side dish. Chimichurri and ginger-plum dipping sauces were offered to punch up steak flavor.

JASON: Lightly breaded onion strings on the steak were delicious, but had me thinking of Applebee's, which in turn made me shudder. The same strings came on the BBQ burger - that's a better place for them I think. The melted cheese-covered patty came on a Zato sauce-smeared bun that also held lettuce, tomato and white onion under smokehouse bacon slabs. Piled high, the burger was a welcome sloppy taste explosion and truly was "cooked to order." Juice from the hormone-free ground beef patty mingled with barbeque sauce and ran down my hand. Now that's a good burger! The fries weren't anything special (obviously out of a freezer bag),  but they were hot and crisp and lightly salted. A huge pickle spear was served on the side.

JAKE: For once, I was the one anticipating dessert. Sadly only the apple pie was made in-house, while the rest appeared to be mass-made (think frozen cheesecakes and "chocolate death"-type cakes).

JASON: The apple pie presentation was cute - the gleaming butter-brushed crust had been folded into a small circle giving the look of a personal pie around a mound of sliced, spiced apples, cinnamon and oats under a hearty scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with caramel. Sadly, the crust tasted old, possibly a bit stale and oddly like pizza dough rather than pastry dough. The inside of the little pie was delicious, however.


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