The only Vietnamese restaurants I have ever tried before were Pho Bac and Pho Hoa Vietnamese Noodle House, so I’m first going to make a disclaimer here. I won’t pretend to be an expert on Vietnamese food, but when it comes to saying whether food is delicious or not, I may qualify for that. 😛
Here’s the story: One Sunday, we got the chance to test this Vietnamese restaurant in Promenade 3, Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan called Zao Vietnamese Bistro. Their menu has vast items and in one quick reading, I thought there are enough reliable interesting dishes for diners to try and come back for a number of times without having to reorder the same thing.
Other restaurants in this new wing in Promenade also piqued my interest. But because Zao’s staff offered the most warm welcome in introducing their must-try food in the reception area, we trusted that this Vietnamese restaurant would bring our taste buds immense pleasure for dinner.
Review of Zao Vietnamese Bistro (Promenade 3, Greenhills)
This modern Vietnamese restaurant in the mall is built with two floors. Decorated with conservative colors, both areas are well appointed and are large enough to accommodate guests without having people to wait long. Getting a table is not a pain.
Seats are positioned with ample distance between customers, making a cozy vibe that’s more on the private and formal side—appropriate for a date and also good for a trendy crowd. The classy ambiance is magnified by the beautiful ceiling set with elegant lights.
The wait staff acted chill and totally professional. They were always ready to move on their feet whenever they see customers raise their hands to call attention. This is the type of customer service that deserves respect and will also earn you a reason to go back and have another amazing dining experience at Zao Vietnamese Bistro.
Something every table seemed to order was the Appetizer Sampler (PhP 565). We had it as a solid starter and nothing went wrong. This sampler featured a nice presentation of all sorts of appetizers in one plate: fresh rolls, vegetable salad, spring rolls, pork and chicken satay and sugar cane shrimps.
They were all rich and pretty tasty. I especially liked the sugar cane shrimps. It’s a new discovery for me and I found it very unique. The satay were hard to chew. The spring rolls were standard fried goodness with dipping sauce.
But if you prefer not confusing your palate with an assortment of food with differing flavors and textures, feel free to order them individually, as follows:
- Fresh Rolls (PhP 215) – with shrimps, noodles, pork, bean sprouts, greens and yellow bean-hoisin sauce
- Crispy Spring Rolls (PhP 245) – with pork, glass noodles and mushrooms served with lettuce wrap
- Pork/Chicken Satay (PhP 195) – grilled Vietnamese satay with Zao dipping sauce and pickled vegetables
- Sugar Cane Shrimps (PhP 345) – deep fried shrimp paste wrapped on sugar cane served with lettuce wrap
Zao’s Vietnamese Beef Stew (PhP 365) consisted of chunks of slow-cooked aromatic beef simmered in star anise and basil, swimming in a bowl of reddish stew. It’s a good rendition, with a delicious mix of sweet and heat. Cooked well and full of flavor, the beef chunks did the heavy lifting, which deserved to be scored an A. Pairing this dish with steamed white rice was great and just proper.
Price for Value: ★★★☆☆
I’m not a huge fan of Vietnamese food but this restaurant is approved! 🙂 If you’re in search of something new and good to eat, come check out Zao Vietnamese Bistro in Greenhills. Prices of food here are not cheap, but servings are big, the kind that will fill you up without hitting your wallet so hard. One a la carte dish can be shared by two people, take note.
Side trivia: Zao means “life” in Vietnamese. 🙂
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