In the location, location, location slogan for resto success, Zao hit the jackpot being beside Conti's since it is the most convenient detour for Conti's spillover.
I do believe, however, that it can stand on its own merits.
It was 9PM and our last meal was many hours ago, so my brain and my stomach were too hungry to wade through the menu. So in typical Icebreaker thick-faced fashion, I just asked the people on the table beside us what was good to eat. And they highly recommended the short ribs and the spring rolls. Thank you, people on other table, we had a good meal.
The seafood spring roll is the best item among our orders. Mainly because it was the only one that vaguely reminded me of Vietnamese cuisine. My bro in law said it tasted like fresh Oishi prawn crackers, but he means that in a good way. If you run out of leaves for rolling, the waiter will gladly refill.
The ribs were succulent, good to the bone, juicy, fight-for-the last piece goodness with that lovely carcinogenic charcoal flavor. But there was nothing that suggested Vietnamese gustatory delight about it. Nothing that my husband, the backyard grill king, cannot do.
If squids would ever become endangered, my sister would be one of the prime culprits. So, we had to order the calamari-type dish. At best, it was okay.
And of course, I had to have cafe da - cold Vietnamese drip coffee with condensed milk. Yum!
So, if you're looking for Vietnam in a bowl, Hanoi in a plate, Saigon this is probably not the best place to go. But if you're looking for flavorful, filling meal, friendly service, with a not-too-pricey bill, when you're famished and Conti's is full, or even when it's not, come to Zao's.