Zao

In our many food travels, Pho remained to be our go-to choice when either one or both of us are sick. Unfortunately, this food journey was me coming down with the flu and wanted something hearty but helpful at the same time.

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Since Phat Pho at Serendra was closed, I asked Kat for other options and she recommended that I try Zao, the place where she first had a bite of what Vietnamese cuisine had to offer.

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For my time here, I chose the Zao Pho, a nice warm bowl of flank, brisket, meatballs, tendons and rice noodles, along with herbs, just like how they serve it in the South.

As a matter of preference, I’m partial to steaming hot broth and theirs was warm but not as warm as I would like. However to be fair, the subtle broth brought out the elements of the dish, from the fresh herbs used to the tenderness of the brisket and even the tendons. Tendons tend to be where people normally struggle in cooking it just right. The chefs at Zao nailed it, as the tender bite-sized pieces of tendon melts in the mouth.

 

Aside from the fancy-but-cozy feel of the place, I felt rather welcome at Zao from start to finish. The Zao Pho helped with making me feel slightly better from being sick because of the recent change of weather here in Manila.

Food Score: 4.5/5: I would have to say that their Zao Pho is really good and their other fares are both visually appealing and a treat to the senses.

Ambiance Score: 4/5: Zao’s décor may have looked intimidating at first glance, but I felt rather a home and comfortable here. The place provided a happy medium between elegance with privacy, and a date spot either with your friends or significant other.

Service Score: 4/5: The servers here at Zao were quite attentive to one’s needs and handles, be it my request for warm water to immediately taking care of any requests I have because I felt under the weather that day.

GERD Score: 4.5/5: I appreciated the fact that they provide the list of ingredients in each menu item, which can help people with heartburn or certain food allergies to pick out the food they can eat. At the same time, their menu offered many food options which was also helpful as well.

Neurodivergent Score: 4/5: Some flavorings and seasonings may not go down well with sensitive diners. That aside, the list of ingredients is a great help in picking dishes for those with hypersensitivity or medication interaction issues

Team Glasses Score: 4/5: The great thing about Zao is that Vietnamese food is mostly healthy and freshly served, give or take a few spices that some people have concerns with. The place is definitely a must-try and another great place to have some Pho during the sick days, or even on a lark.

Zao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ted’s Kitchen

Although we spend 95% of our time in the city, there are occasions when work or classes bring us out of the metropolis. Last June, I spent much of my time with some classmates in the municipality of Santa Cruz, Laguna. The locale is known as being a gateway to many of the natural and historical wonders of the province, as well as a source of the creamy cheese known as kesong puti. After asking around a little about the favorite dining spots and food parks in the town, we decided to make an excursion to Ted’s Kitchen in Barangay Duhat, near the border of Santa Cruz and Pila.

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We quickly discovered that Ted’s Kitchen, in addition to its restaurant, also had its own bakeshop as well as bed-and-breakfast facilities. In fact it was the bakeshop and its assortment of cakes and pastries that caught my friends’ attention when we entered the premises. Over the course of two visits, we got to sample several specialty cakes and cheesecakes, among other meals and entrees.

One bestseller is the avocado cheesecake, a rich and hearty concoction with the subtle flavor of avocado. The texture of the fruit also mixes perfectly with that of the cheese, making it a dessert to travel miles for. Another favorite dessert was the chocolate bomb, a ganache cake topped with crunchy Maltesers. This confection is great combined with brewed coffee, some mint tea or earl grey or better yet the affogatto. These were definitely worth our impromptu tasting session after a long day on the field.

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Chocolate Bomb! We ended up bringing home several slices of this to Manila

Other treats worth trying are the blueberry cheesecake, the tiramisu as well as the lava cake. These are also great with coffee, or partnered with the different herbal teas available at the counter. Various breakfast plates, burger and steak dishes, and homemade pastas are also featured on the menu.

 

Food Score: 4.5/5: Many of the dishes at Ted’s Kitchen are homestyle American specialties done well such as burgers and steaks. However the real attractions are the baked goods, which are not overly sweet, and still preserve the rich flavors of nuts and chocolate.

Ambiance Score: 4/5: The atmosphere is very cozy, evocative of toy chests and nooks of plants and rocking chairs. It is perfect for a brunch or lunch catching up with friends, a hearty family dinner, or even just alone time to read a good book.

Service Score: 3.5/5: The service here is best described as leisurely, which is perfect for those stopping by for a long lunch or dinner. Not so much for those on a hurry on the national highway.

GERD Score: 4/5: Their selection of meals and drinks here provides an ample amount of choices for anyone dealing with heartburn, from the pastries, drinks, and meals here.

Neurodivergent Score: 4/5: Some of the dishes rely on preserved meats such as sausages, which may be problematic for sensitive diners. However there is a great selection of herbal teas and fresh fruit shakes and juices that are excellent for neurodivergent diners who need to cut back on sugars and preservatives, or watch their food restrictions.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5: Laguna may be known for a good many delicacies such as kesong puti and buko pie, but the food from Ted’s Kitchen really should also be on the list of ‘foods to try’ for any traveler. But is any distance too far to travel for good food? We at Team Glasses will let you, our readers, be the judge!