The Vietnamese culinary invasion continues, while the tag “bistro” has found its way in various dining outlets in the city. Here are two representative outlets.
Zao Vietnamese Bistro— Unit 1 C, 16 Serendra, Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global city, Taguig, tel. 8562819
Zao means “life” in Vietnamese, and indeed there is life in this dining outlet, which is often busy at mealtimes.
Dining area—Done in conservative colors. The pungent, minty smell of Vietnamese cilantro stirs the senses and makes one doubly hungry. Do not choose the tables against the walls, because you’d hardly have the space to move in and out.
Service—Orders come fast from the kitchen.
Staff—They greet diners upon entering, present menu folders and take orders. But they are not very informative. Inadvertently, without guidance, we ordered two dishes with noodles!
Suggested menu—Because one always wants the specialties of the house, take note of those labelled “Zao.” Most of the dishes combine the same elements like pork, beef and chicken, vegetables and herbs. Start with the Fresh Rolls with dipping sauce. Get the soup with flat noodles, served with two sauces, hoisin and chili. The Zao Bowl has Vermicelli serving as base for bite-size pieces of tenderloin beef, tocino, roasted chicken and spring rolls. The Zao Platter contains, again, chicken, pork and beef tenderloin in barbecue marinade. They are all rather light, so the diner would have space for a dessert of Jasmine Rice Pudding with Tea.
Service charge is added to the bill, which can average P500 per diner. Senior cards are honored.
Sala Bistro—G/L, Greenbelt 3, Makati City, tel. 7294888
A “bistro” once meant a small, cozy place that served comfort food. Sala Bistro has gone a step farther by offering specialty dishes that are A-1 in flavors, accompanied by excellent service.
Dining area—Very dramatic, predominantly black interiors. There is a certain serenity in this place. One’s conversation does not carry to the next table.
Service—Very welcoming, and guests are immediately shown to a table, whether previously reserved or not.
Staff—In black outfits, they hand the menu over with a smile. They know what they serve, making it easier for the guest to choose.
Suggested menu—We did not go for appetizers, but instead savored the bread served with a dip. The Braised Lamb was perfect, the meat literally falling off the bone, which was what made it look too big for our equally big appetite. The Brown Sauce where it was cooked and served has the ideal consistency and subtle flavor that did not overwhelm the natural juices of the lamb. A co-diner who ordered her favorite, Stewed Seafood, showed us the best way to enjoy the succulent crustaceans: She peeled all the shrimps and took all others from their shells, then savored each bite without any hassle. Ingenious! Unless one hankers for dessert, the main course would be a very satisfying meal.
Service charge is added to the bill. The resto honors senior citizen cards.