Zenwich will open in Central West End in April
Blue Ocean Restaurant owner Chai Ploentham will bring some new flavors to the Central West End in April when he opens Zenwich, the second location of his Chicago sandwich and ramen eatery. The restaurant will take over 8.5 S. Euclid Ave.
Ploentham bought Zenwich last year, which he said was his favorite sandwich spot when he lived in Chicago. When the previous owners announced they were moving to Florida, Ploentham jumped on the opportunity. “I told them to show me the kitchen. Eventually, I said, ‘You know what, I’m gonna buy this,’” he said.
A year later, he’s decided to bring the franchise west of the Mississippi. “All my friends said, ‘Dude, you gotta bring it to St. Louis,’” he said. “I love the food so much.”
Zenwich will have around six sandwiches, including a spicy shrimp, a Korean cheesesteak, a crabcake and a teriyaki katsu. Ploentham said any sandwich can be made with tofu for vegetarian options. There’s also a rice paper wrap for those who want to skip the bread.
A number of ramen bowls will round out the menu, including a spicy beef ramen and a seafood ramen. “I sell a lot of ramen at Blue Ocean,” Ploentham said. “It’s always a top-seller. I didn’t see anybody doing ramen in this area yet. If I can bring ramen and sandwiches together, that should be a good fit.”
Zenwich will be open for lunch and dinner, and Ploentham is considering a late-night option. On that note, the 30-seat restaurant will serve beer and wine.
The fast-casual shop will rely heavily on phone and online orders. Ploentham said more than half the tickets at Zenwich’s Chicago location come from phone orders. In fact, at the St. Louis Zenwich, Ploentham will encourage diners to order online from their phones, even when dining in person.
“The person who receives the order just puts that information into the system. Why not just do it yourself?” he said.
Adam Rothbarth is the staff writer at Sauce Magazine.
Editor's note: This article was updated at 4:07 p.m. Jan 23 to correct the spelling of Chai Ploentham's name.