Sunday, June 20, 2010

Zao Vietnamese Cafe, Eastwood City, Libis

Name: Zao Vietnamese Cafe
Location: Eastwood City, Libis
Google Maps: Eastwood Mall
Must Know: eVAT and 10.00% service charge.
Date: June 20, 2010, Lunch Time

Ordered from the Menu:
Crispy Spring Rolls PHP 195.00
Deep Fried Catfish PHP 195.00
Vietnamese Beef Stew PHP 345.00
Saigon Fried Rice PHP 215.00
Jasmine Iced Tea PHP 95.00
Tamarind Iced Tea PHP 95.00

Let's start-off with these two flavored refreshments. The Tamarind and Jasmine Iced Teas (PHP 95.00 each) were very refreshing. I think it's perfect for a warm, humid and overcast day like this Sunday. Reminds me of a mint drink which we tried in Discovery Shores, Boracay. Our sentiments were confirmed when we overheard comments from the party at the other table how refreshing the drink was. The best thing is, it's bottomless, so don't hesitate to ask for that refill. I'd probably go back here just for these iced teas on a warm day.

Up for starters is the Crispy Spring Rolls (PHP 195.00) which you wrap around with lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber slices and other garnishes. The first bite lets you know how fresh the ingredients are - the lettuce is crispy and the cucumber is refreshing. Adding the right amount of meat balances out this appetizer. Over-all, the dish is a great way to get your taste buds acquainted for the Vietnamese dishes which are about to come.
The staple is Saigon Fried Rice (PHP 215.00) which is basically rice in a bowl which is good for 2 persons. Honestly speaking, it looked very much like ordinary rice with margarine, herbs and eggs. In detail, tt is mixed with yellow flavoring, herbs, chinks of scrambled eggs, spices and a few chunks of beef. At first glance, it gives off nothing special. However, this is just rice so it's meant to be enjoyed with some of our main dishes. Moving on..

Saigon Fried Rice

Next up is the Vietnamese Beef Stew (PHP345.00). It looked normal with no fancy preparation, just served plain and simple in a white bowl of steaming beef in sauce. However, once eaten the taste and the flavors are very rich which suits the very tender beef - you know it was slow cooked in order to pack-in all that taste. Mixing it with the Saigon rice then answered my question - I started to think that all dishes in this joint are meant to be enjoyed with each other, not alone.

Vietnamese Beef Stew

Last served was the Deep Fried Catfish (PHP 195.00) which actually looked scary when I was taking its photo. Unfortunately, it also didn't leave any surprises as as it tasted quite plain as if it was cooked in a camp fire with shortage of spices. There wasn't really any rich flavor of anything on it, and I can't put a finger on what ingredient they might have used on it as well to make it worthy of a restaurant dish. Its was cat fish, nothing more nothing less. To make matters worse, the fish wasn't boneless so I had to stop chewing once in a while to take out the tinik. Over-all, I found myself disappointed with thus dish, its wasn't even normal. I just really didn't like it.

Deep Fried Catfish

So I end my Vietnamese Cafe experience with somewhat mixed feelings. The ambiance is great with great music, and so is the service. I find myself confused, somehow, with the dishes. Do I need to know the good combinations from the bad? I'd recommend this place to couples but would somehow be hesitant that they might not be so lucky with the dishes they pick together.

Here's how it faired our scorecard.

3 - Food Quality started off good with the iced tea and spring rolls starting off with a bang. However, the rice and cat fish just didn't live up to its potential.

4 - Ambiance is a red themed cafe with cozy and classy music. It's a really nice place. The only downside is that you can smell what's cooking in the kitchen - and I mean the whole restaurant. It's probably because the place is small.

3.5 - Value for Money was average. You'd expect something like that in a lot of paces these days, just be ready for the VAT and service charge to add to your tab.

4.5 - Service was excellent as they served all the food together in fairly reasonable time. The staff was also very courteous refilling the refreshing iced teas.

No x-factor for this place.

Total 15.

Recommended Dish: The Vietnamese Beef Stew is a must-try if you do drop by this place.

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