After an unsuccessful day of shopping the previous day, Chris and I decided to do it up right and hit U Village. We browsed most of the stores, said hi to Julie, and ended our adventure hitting up ZAO Noodle Bar. ZAO's a restaurant I've ordered from before and always had pretty good success. However, the fates weren't with ZAO this visit.
We started by ordering the ZAO Chicken Dumplings. They looked good enough, but Chris said one of his was very crispy/chewy and the sauce that accompanied the six dumplings was bland. There also was more dumpling than stuffing, so don't order if you're looking for extra plump appetizers. For some reason, I got a hit of spicy in the sauce and thought it was better than he did. That said, they were gone before I even remembered to take a photo, so they obviously weren't horrible. (Or, we were just THAT hungry after four hours of shopping and a rather forgettable 30-minute pedicure from InSpa.)
Chris ordered the Spicy Black Bean Chicken Stirfry, a "ZAO specialty" that combines chicken, vegetables, and a "spicy" black bean sauce along with jasmine rice. Chris was less than impressed with the dish overall saying it was bland and that he was surprised they had it listed as a house specialty because of how underwhelming the dish was as a whole. He also mentioned they served it with entirely too much rice. Chris was willing to give his entree a 2.5 Stars rating, at best..
On the contrary, my Bangkok Chicken Satay Salad was actually quite good. The grilled chicken was moist and delicious, lettuce and cabbage crisp and held up well to the hot chicken, and the bell peppers offered crunch and a mild sweetness. The sesame-peanut dressing was spicy, flavorful, and was just the right amount (no drowning salad!). I could definitely eat this a couple times a week at least and give it 4 stars.
However, the star of the evening was the ridiculously delicious Coconut Ice Cream! The one scoop of creamy ice cream with plenty of coconut flesh throughout was hardly enough and Chris mentioned several times (even on the drive home) that he wanted more. If you are offered the chocolate sauce topping, don't hesitate. They use real Ghiradelli's chocolate (none of that Hershey's nonsense).
As proved to be the case this time, the dishes were hit or miss so you may take your chances with it. I have had all of their salads in the past and haven't been disappointed.