Last week, we were supposed to eat at Dampa but I realized that it was John Mayer’s concert that day. I suggested that we just meet at Serendra as there are several restaurants there. As we were walking around, I exclaimed, “Let’s eat at Zao!”. The 1st time I tried Zao Vietnamese Bistro was at Eastwood Mall and I remember very clearly that I enjoyed the food we ordered. I was able to convince my mom and her friends, and so we ended up trying it out after all.
Zao’s food, which is Vietnamese food, is meant to be shared. Looking through the menu, I saw spring rolls, tamarind tea, satay barbeque in the menu. We ordered quite a lot which is good because I was able to sample a lot of their dishes. Here are the dishes that we ordered (yes, we finished all of it):
- Crispy Spring Rolls (Php 195)
I realized that we totally forgot to wrap the spring rolls with lettuce hahahaha! We just ate the spring rolls all by itself! I guess we were too hungry that we failed to notice the other ingredients in the plate. Basically, pork, glass noodles & mushrooms wrapped in lumpia wrapper & then deep-fried. Yum! Could have been better if we ate it like how we were supposed to eat it 😛
- Zao Pho (Php 225)
This reminds me of the soup being served at Pho Hoa. This Vietnamese-inspired dish is made with rice noodle mixed w/ flank, brisket, meatballs, tendons. A truly hearty soup, yet the broth was very light and tasty, and most especially it’s not too salty. The simplicity of the dish is also what makes it appetizing.
- Cahn Chua (Php 275)
I have always thought that the traditional Filipino sinigang is the best there is, apparently I was wrong. Zao’s version of sinigang is another soup now part of my top favorite soups. It’s really a bit different from the Filipino version but oh boy, I was admiring the taste the whole time. It has this sweet & sour taste to it. The secret? most probably, Tamarind. We can either choose shrimp or fish with this super yummy soup, we chose shrimp.
- Zao Satay Platter (Php 345)
4 different grilled Vietnamese satay in 1 order namely: pork, chicken, beef & shrimp. Served with Zao Vietnamese Bistro’s own special dipping sauce. The pork is my favorite from the 4 specialties in the platter. But if you’re a barbecue fan, you will definitely love the variety in this dish, and you should definitely also order it! It’s as simple as you can get, but like with any type of grilled meats or seafood, how you season and marinade it will truly make or break the dish. Zao did well with how they prepared and cooked their satay.
- Lemongrass Chicken (Php 265)
Chicken cooked with chili lemongrass sauce. Uniquely good! Seems like lemongrass is a popular ingredient in Vietnamese dishes. I would have wished they have included lemongrass juice in their menu though. Back to the chicken, it’s Zao’s specialty. You must order this. The great combination of the chili with the lemongrass really gave this chicken a great contrast of flavors. We don’t normally associate the flavors of lemongrass with chili, but with this dish, it really does work well!
- Vietnamese Beef Stew (Php 345)
Vietnamese Beef Stew, now I know how they cook this. Seems like they put a lot of basil in this dish. Cooked with star anise. Did I like it? Yes, definitely! It was interesting how they presented this dish as well, with all the greens on top, but once you get one bite, I realized why it was like that. The basil, along with the onions, and the beef was so very sumptuous!
- Deep-Fried Catfish (Php 195)
Their version of pinaputok na pla pla. I really think there’s a lot of similarities with dishes around the world. It’s just how they cook and how they season it that makes it different. With this version, the ginger sauce made it special. And oftentimes, it’s the sauce in these simple dishes that really gives it that extra special touch. However, I have to say that even if this was a simple fried fish, the fact that they fried it so perfectly and still made it look easy to present is something that they should also get credit for. Not to mention that it was perfectly crisp on the outside yet moist still.
- Water Spinach w/ Tofu (Php 175)
This was not a favorite of mine. I wish we could have ordered something different. Don’t get me wrong, it does taste okay. Just our normal spinach with tofu. Just like their other dishes, what I would have wished for this dish is that they gave it a little more twist, added an ingredient or two, seasoned the tofu a bit more, or something. In my opinion, we can make dishes like this still traditional, but for a restaurant like Zao, considering the other dishes, this tofu and spinach dish did not meet expectation.
- Saigon Fried Rice (Php 215)
Fried rice cooked with Chinese sausage, shrimp & green peas. We ordered several plain rice as this wasn’t enough for us, we were a big group! 😛 As what my fiance always says, whenever rice is mixed w/ chinese sausauge, it will never go wrong. Which was definitely the case with this fried rice. I really wish I could have had more of this fried rice.
- Iced Tea (Php 95)
With their iced teas, we had a choice between the jasmine, tamarind or lychee tea. None of us ordered the jasmine tea. I ended up ordering the tamarind one, super yummy drink! tasted like real tamarind, I loved it! I tasted the lychee tea too, I think it really depends on your preference but I liked the tamarind flavor more. It’s bottomless too!
We were seated at the far back since we were a big group. I kept admiring the design of Zao Vietnamese Bistro. Very, very unique and oh, so eye-catching. I loved it, especially the lantern. It complements completely the delicious food that they serve.
Zao Vietnamese Bistro
Unit 1C16 Serendra, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines