review: Ao Zai in Salzburg


The name of this restaurant is usually associated with a traditional long dress in Vietnam. In order to make it more pronounceable for Austrians, the letter "D" in Ao Day has been replaced with "Z" and thus the name Ao Zai was used.

At 11AM, the restaurant was empty, except a waitress standing outside and "working" on her phone. Once stepping in, this place felt like a remodeled cave with some decorations for an added Vietnamese feel. A single hallway divided tables and chairs on both sides and out of nowhere, the counter appeared right in the middle of everything. 

The waitress could not be more indifferent. She was following the service blueprint exactly, no exception. No smile or word was wasted. The whole procedure could be described in a single word: cold. But efficient. On the positive note, they went above and beyond to provide real chopsticks.

Shortly after ordering, my appetiser arrived. Eight tiny, mostly unidentifiable, substances were wrapped and placed orderly on an oversized plate. While the taste was alright, it was definitely not worth the price. The highlight was probably the sauce; a full circle of taste that embodies spiciness, saltiness, sweetness and sourness. Yum! 

The Pho Bò quickly followed. Like other times, my first instinct was slurping a spoonful of the broth. Oh boy, I really needed a lot of lemon juice to counter the sweetness of this sugar-salt-beef flavoured, water combination. Even the Pho from South Vietnam was not as sweet as this bowl. The rice noodles were thinner than in other Vietnamese places in Salzburg. However, the organic beef cuts were great. Tender and juicy. 

In conclusion, my second time at Ao Zai did not differ much from my last experience. Unfortunately, the high price, lack of quantity of food and the "efficient" service level are not what we, the Vietnamese, stand for. 

In 3 words: adequate and overpriced!

  • Ao Zai
  • Chiemseegasse 5
  • 5020 Salzburg 
  • Austria