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New Cairo, Cairo, Egypt.
Zo Asian Restaurant: Asian Restaurant's Hit-and-Miss Cairo Festival City Branch
Our love for the eclectic flavours of the Asian cuisine is limitless. With a combination of bold, spicy, sweet and sour ingredients, Asian dishes are ones we always look forward to. Hoping to refresh our taste buds, we headed to Zo's second branch in the New Cairo's Cairo Festival City Mall.
Situated in the fountain area, amidst a handful of other restaurants, Zo is almost unrecognisable due to the lack of any bright sign signalling its presence, unlike it's Zamalek branch on 26th of July Street. It is, however, sharing the venue with another well-established chain-Makani. The venue is neither spacious nor constricting, with modestly-sized indoor and outdoor seating areas. We chose to sit outdoors, given the fact that our waiter offered us a table with its own heater.
Zo's menu, which was instantly laid before us alongside the Makani menu, offers Asian dishes from China, Thailand and Korea. From spring rolls, soups, noodles, fried rice, curry, chicken-based, beef-based, as well as seafood dishes, the menu has an abundance of savoury items to choose from. The dessert section is, however, is quite limited with only cinnamon-smothered sweet potatoes (22LE) and ice cream-topped fried bananas (28LE) on offer.
Our server swiftly came by to take our orders and was, both pleasant and helpful, aiding us in picking our desired dishes from the confusing choices offered in the menu. We ended up opting for the Crispy Bags (18.50LE), Sweet & Sour Chicken (480LE), Spicy & Sour Chicken (48 LE), Fried Rice with Chicken (22 LE) and Chinese Beef Noodles (40LE).
a good thirty-five minutes later, the Crispy Bags arrived and definitely looked the part. Consisting of mixed vegetable and tiny chicken chunks enveloped in crispy pastry accompanied by a sweet Thai chilli dip, it was an exquisite start to the meal.
The main courses, all without an exception, came in rather smaller-than-expected portions.
Fried chicken chunks on a bed of mixed vegetables drenched in a deliciously sweet and sour sauce pretty much sums up the Sweet & Sour Chicken, which we thought was bursting with flavour and cooked to perfection. The Spicy & Sour Chicken, served on the same bed of mixed vegetables, didn't fare as well, tasting just a bit too spicy for our liking.
The Fried Rice was probably the most disappointing part of the night, tasting bland and lacking an ample amount of chicken. The Chinese Beef Noodles, on the other hand, had a generous portion of beef chunks and mushrooms interweaved within well-spiced noodles, making it the highlight of our main courses.
Overall, Zo is the kind of hit-or-miss restaurant which simultaneously offers either mouth-watering dishes that you savour every bite of, or tremendously disappointing ones. Both, however, will come in rather small portions. Notably, the service, was quite stellar, disregarding the semi-long wait we had to endure for the food's arrival.