*** This is a personal opinion, I mean no offence. The only reason this would be a negative review is because I have tasted several other local cafes that offer similar dishes which in my opinion – tasted better, had more variety and came with a cheaper price tag. – all in all – a better value for money. In terms of the cafe itself – it is a warm and cozy, vibrant cafe. When you are inside, you know the owners have put some thought into the planning of the cafe. It’s pretty cool. However, this is a food review blog, which means among everything else, my thoughts on the food takes center stage.
This is a very new cafe, just under 2 weeks old and I’ve given it a try and the verdict is that I ain’t returning. Lemme get straight to it as to why that is the case.
- Their main appeal would be the Taiwanese street food styled sandwiches and their most popular/recommended dish is going for 18 ringgit? Seriously? Ooooo Hell NO! Not when you offer me toasted Gardenia – lookalike white bread + small pork fillet + a slice of tomato + a slice of pineapple + a few salad greens. Other eateries with similar offerings offer me a variaty with lesser cost. Similar popular/recommended sandwiches at Purple Miao (Purple Miao @ Ampang – Something different ) goes for an average of 10 – 11 ringgit & A. Toast ( A.Toast – A thoroughly satisfying find. ) offers their sandwiches for an average of 9 – 10 ringgit. Notice the price difference?
- When you serve a dish that is of the ‘street style’ variety – you would want to try and retain as much as the ‘street style’ feel as possible, especially in terms of the interior and/or exterior of the cafe/shop – like what A. Toast & Purple Miao did, because that is what ‘pulls’ the crowd. Zao, however – looks like a modern day, full fledged cafe. So, if the eatery looks like that – I would think its necessary to make some changes in the dish as well, make it more ‘cafe-ish’? What Zao did was spend a lot of money making the cafe interior look like fancy little ‘normal’ cafe and it seemed to me that the only aspect of the street style they retained was the ‘ordering at the counter outside’. If you are somewhat used to this style, you would realize that rather than the usual cafe setting whereby the counter is inside the cafe, street style usually locates the counter outside the shop. It is all connected but there is a clear separation. I just think in Zao’s case, it defeats its purpose. They also had this fancy numbering system. The similar kind you are accustomed to when you buy bubble tea? The ones you place you order and then wait around, and when your number on the screen flashes, you head to the counter and collect your drink? Yup, you will get the same kind here at Zao. Again – sooooo not street style. It seemed more like the higher-end version of it. Again – if you are tryna do the ‘high end’ version of things, shouldn’t you also make you dishes ‘high end’? Which brings me to my next point.
- .You offer me the ‘higher end’ part of the deal when it comes to street food style, which naturally means I only get about 20% feel because the other 80% feels like a modern day cafe & you think that makes total sense to offer me the simple dish you provided at a premium price? First of all – you rob me of my street food style experience and then you charge me way higher than market price for it? Like – I dont get it yawwwww. What on earth are you tryna do? Purple Miao offers me white bread sanwiches and clearly isnt a Gardenia white bread lookalike & if you do not feel like having bread, they also offer egg roll. So basically, you get an egg roll in the shape of a pita bread and is used as an alternate base for your sandwices and A. Toast offers me white bread, wholemeal or bamboo charcoal buns as a base. What does Zao offer? Just plain ol’ white bread and you charge me premium? What the heck, man.
Look, I do not know what Zao’s deal is. All I can say is that I think they are both smart and lucky that they decided to set up shop at an area where they have no competitors that offers Taiwanese Street Style food and at the back of my head – I guess I understand why the price is higher than average – because Zao needs to make up for the cost of renting in this side of town, which is significantly higher than where Purple Miao & A. Toast is located BUT I ain’t returning. I like the real deal and to me – A. Toast & Purple Miao offers me that.
So Zao is located directly opposite Strangers at 47, hmmm not really. There is the row of shops that houses Strangers, then there is the main road in the middle of it, then there is another row of shops. Yup, Zao is within that row of shops, so yea – technically it is opposite from one another, separated by a mainroad.
The cafe was vibrant and spacious. Loved the decor and the lighting oozed coziness and welcome.
Pineapple Grilled Pork Loin & Cheese, 18 ringgit
What this dish offers you is a layer of white toasted bread + a small patty of pork loin + cheese + pineapple + tomato + lettuce and this layer is then repeated, in short – a double layer of the same thing, which coincides with Taiwanese street style servings. There are a variety of serving styles and this is one of em.
This dish was their recommended dish. Why? I do not know. It tasted pretty mediocre. It did not ooze the specialty feel and neither did it taste like it. At A. Toast , I remembered going ‘Wow!’ and at Purple Miao, it was ‘not bad’. At Zao however, its just another pretty simple sandwich. Definitely no lasting impressions.
Zao’s Big Breakfast, 28 ringgit
This was the usual Big Breakfast you would find at many local cafes. It tasted pretty good and as soon as you eat, you know its a plate of healthy goodness. You get several pieces of pumpkins, mushrooms, baked tomatoes, spinach, scrambled eggs, ham, sausage and a slice of toasted bread. It was good, there was a pleasant mix of sweetness, gooeyness, crunchiness.
Would I head here again?
Nah, I would not. The only reason I even paid a visit was for the Taiwanese street style sandwiches. I love em as equally as I am fascinated with em. The one at Zao though, fits the description but tastewise, nothing spectacular.
Address: 50 G, Jalan 19/3, Seksyen 19, 46300 Petaling Jaya.
Opening hours: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday, Fridays, 6 am – 3 pm,
Weekends, 8 am – 4 pm
Signing out now, Ciao.