Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bon Appetit or ขอให้เจริญอาหาร! (kŏr hâi jà-rern aa-hăan!) as they say at Zen Bistro

I love that downtown Daytona has such an eclectic atmosphere and so many choices for lunch.  Zen Bistro is definitely at the top of my list.  Being a believer I'm always shocked when I see a bunch of haters reviewing.... we do lunch at the Zen Bistro at least once a week.... sometimes take out, sometimes in person.... 
and enough of that hate, let's talk about LOVE.  We love Zen Bistro, it's a super small, locally owned Thai Restaurant down in the Beach Street area [on Bay Street just West of North Beach].  For starters the biggest tip I can give you is to get there by 11:30 a.m. on weekdays to insure you can get a table.... there's only a dozen or so tables and many are 2 seaters and by noon on any given day they are FULL with even more people hanging out front waiting.

Now, not to bash another establishment BUT there is another Thai restaurant across the street and it's significantly bigger and therefore you can always get a seat.... BUT there's a reason for that. It's simply not as good. Not the flavors, not the service. I've done practically side by side comparisons.  Pass it by and get take out from Zen before meandering over there for second best.

That said, when we decide on Zen we get there between 11:15 and 11:45 and are never alone but also never without a seat....
For appetizers I've tried a few and while none are "not good" the Gyoza is a personal favorite.... Chicken & Vegetable Dumplings Fried and served with Ponzu sauce.  YUM.  The Shrimp in a blanket and Fresh Rolls are close seconds on my list..... I need to try the mussels one of these days!  If you have, please comment I'd love to hear.

Pad See Eew & Beef Fried Rice
I'm a creature of habit so I'll tell you what I LOVE for my lunch but fear not I've sampled from others plates too and it's all been really awesome.  I used to be a Pad Thai junkie until I tried Pad See Eew.  I adore it.  Spicy sweet rocks.  I order it medium, which is a true medium, no sweat on my brow but flavorful.  I get just veggies but it comes with beef, chicken, or tofu also.  David gets the fried rice with beef which is also yummy.  I've tried the Pumpkin Curry, Masaman & Jungle Curry from friend's plates, all of which are INSANELY good and that from someone that says she's not a curry person. 

Now, I don't usually eat dessert with lunch, but the owner gave us Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango once as a gesture and OMFreakingG.... I could eat nothing else for every meal and be so happy [and fat] and so I took writing this review as an opportunity to order it.... I mean, I NEEDED a picture right?  Seriously, just once treat yourself.  Mango is not something I would usually pick.... but in this combo.... sticky rice, sweet coconut milk, mango, sesame seeds.... lordy, just try it.  You can thank me later!

Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango
Bottom line, great atmosphere, awesome staff, authentic menu.  Everything is cooked to order, super fast & fresh and to your specs.... ranging from no spice to Thai Hot and even Medium & 1/2 if you are so inclined!  Worth the trip to Beach Street for a little bit of awesome Thai.

ขอให้เจริญอาหาร! (kŏr hâi jà-rern aa-hăan!)

Zen Bistro on Urbanspoon
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