Zaab is a trendy new Laotian/Thai joint in Braddon offering a modern take to these cuisines. The place was packed out on a Friday night with a queue of people in front of what was a reservation lectern waiting to be seated. My friend and I had no booking and there were no tables left but we had the option to sit at the bar and was happy with that. The menu listed street food snacks such as pork skewers, larb bites and Lao sausages. Curry favourites like mussaman and red duck were also on the menu, as well as pad thai, various grilled meats, larb and paw paw salad. It was a hot day and since we were already at the bar, I asked whether mocktails could be made. The bartender mentioned they had limited ingredients for mocktails but could come up with a berry/lychee mocktail which sounded great. I didn’t know what the price was until I saw the bill later for $12. I thought this was rather overpriced for the small glass I received. The mocktail was fruity and fun but mainly filled with crushed ice.
My friend and I both wanted to try the curries but it was just too hot a day for it. We shared the son in law eggs ($10) which are boiled eggs that have been lightly fried accompanied by a special sweet and sour sauce. I enjoyed the dish and that sauce was perfection.
I ordered the Zaab platter ($28) not realising the small (z) marked against it on the menu meaning the dish was spicy. Whoops. The platter consisted of green paw paw salad with tomatoes, chilli and Zaab sauce, two chicken wings, pork crackling, eggs, vegetables and rice vermicelli. The paw paw salad was the spicy element and I only managed to eat half of it as I didn’t want to burn my taste buds completely. I think the intention of the platter was to load the small lettuce leaves with a bit of everything, roll it up and eat. The chicken wings had been marinated in a simple BBQ sauce but I thought these were delicious, succulent and moreish. I liked the thicker rice vermicelli noodles and would have liked a bigger portion of that. Overall, I didn’t find the platter filling or with as much variety as I would have liked.
My friend ordered the chicken larb ($16) made up of chicken mince and dry chilli flakes. It was a generous portion and another dish marked spicy so she had to take regular breaks to recover and found it hard to finish the dish. She also had to order a side of coconut rice ($4) to accompany the larb.
J was happy to learn that Beer Lao was available after our trip to Laos late last year. Other popular Asian beers such as Chang, Bintang, Singha and Tiger were also available.
Service was friendly and attentive, though I note we were the few people sitting at the bar with the bartender looking after us. The food surprisingly came out quickly on that busy night. The restaurant gets very LOUD from chatter, general street noise and the live band playing at the front. I’m a little disappointed that there’s not more variety in the Lao/Thai food offered – Lao BBQ, noodle soup, Lao stew etc. Perhaps that will be added on later.
We noticed that there was no air-conditioning and it was quite humid and stuffy inside (I couldn’t help thinking it’s all part of the experience with the real humidity of Laos/Thailand hehe) so it was a good thing we were seated at the bar and closer to the outdoor breeze.
Zaab can be found at 9 Lonsdale Street in Braddon. Open seven days from 5pm.
Value for money 6/10
FPJ score 21/30
If you want more random photos and updates about food, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: