Zao Asian restaurant is in the Omni Park centre in Santry. This restaurant is owned and run by Faye Wang, who also runs the excellent Alannadale in Leixlip. Forget MSG, high calories and bad versions of classic Asian dishes, this is the real deal serving authentic Asian cooking to the lucky denizens of Santry and beyond.
The restaurant is bright and airy, with accent colours of orange and lime green dotted about. Plants break up the room, and comfortable chairs finished in leather and suede are ranged around the stylish white tables. Chandeliers and glass lanterns hang from the ceiling, and the front of the restaurant is a glass wall that opens onto a long terrace.
We were eating as a threesome; myself, Deirdre and Maureen, who was heading to Egypt the next day, and joined us for a bite. Deirdre was on a health kick, and so was looking to try some of the healthy options, and so we ordered accordingly, hot and spicy for me, and light and tasty for the two women.
The menu is divided between Thai, Malaysian and Chinese cuisines, and the selection is well chosen, and offers choice without making deciding a chore. We started with chicken Yuk Sum, stir fried chicken served with ice berg lettuce leaves. Light and delicious it was accompanied by a mango prawn salad, which was spicy and had a real fruity kick. It satisfied both criteria; very tasty with a chilli hit and packed full of flavour.
Main courses brought a Malaysian Rhandang curry made with beef and chicken and served with rice. This was the dish with the serious chilli heat, it was nevertheless fresh, fragrant and just tasted freshly made.
Faye also brought a fabulous healthy option for Dee; pan seared sea bass fillets with a bowl of Pad Thai noodles on the side. The noodles were fabulous; I have had some fairly crap versions of Pad Thai, and no doubt people who have been similarly unfortunate must wonder why this would be the national dish in Thailand.
This was the antithesis of the bland and the mediocre, freshly stir fried with onions, scallion, bean sprouts and served with lime wedges it was perfect with the delicate fish. If you think Asian food is all heavy sauces and calories, think again, this is elegant and delicious food.
We shared everything and after our starters and the mains were too full to think about dessert and finished with some good coffees.
Zoa is a welcome edition to Santry. The food is a step above average Asian fare, and Faye’s attention to detail and love of great food will see it get even better over time. Try it now, and taste some authentic Asian food for yourself.