My professional photographer isn't sure he has photographs of this meal, which is such a shame. Just imagine the looks of the best Asian meal you've ever had.
We had driven to meet Paul's folks at Daytona Beach for the weekend because Paul's mom had had meetings all week. His mom did some research and took us to a restaurant with good reviews. Unfortunately, it wasn't very vegetarian friendly. We were hungry, and were left hanging. This is where the trusty Smart Phone comes in. I really don't know what we would have done without that valuable contraption.
We walked down the street and back again, finally deciding to visit what looked like an inviting-enough Thai restaurant. As we were about to walk in the door, we saw a tiny restaurant across the street. Zen Bistro. (Please note, the picture on the website is not what the restaurant looks like. Just thought I should point that out if you've never been to Daytona.) "What's that?" "Well, let's take a look." Paul pulled up a review about the restaurant that said it was a great Asian restaurant and the writer had almost been distracted by the larger Thai restaurant across the street. We were sold. We crossed the street and never looked back.
I often judge a restaurant by how full it is. This one was nice and steady with only about two two-person tables empty when we left. The staff was amazingly friendly. The gentleman/waiter/suspected owner went through almost everything on the menu telling us what was best. My favorite thing he said was "Everything we make here, we consider a specialty." I could see why if he knew so much about each plate. I also appreciated his politely pointing out that vegetarian, without the oyster sauce, meant it would be a little less authentic. We politely told him that was OK.
Our meal started with two orders of fabulous "Fresh Rolls" with a peanut sauce on the side. They were glass noodles, tofu, and vegetables wrapped in rice paper. The highlight was a beautiful leaf of Thai Basil visible through the paper at the top. It so made the rolls. I think I could have made a meal out of just those.
There are 4 sections of main dishes: Noodles, Curries, Fried Rices, and Sauteed Dishes. We each ordered something from each section and shared our orders around the table. While the gentleman/waiter/suspected owner recommended the curries to be most authentic given we were vegetarians, he recommended the Wai Wai Noodles (like long Ramen) as next best. He was so right. Gerald fell for that one. And a small part of me wished I had, too. It was so good. Kathleen was very excited about a curry and pointed out that she wanted it warm, but not so hot that she would be crying. In fact, we could all be specific about how spicy we wanted our dishes. I ordered the Garlic Saute with broccoli because I'm a big fan of broccoli and rarely find someone to make the dish vegetarian.. Paul had the pineapple fried rice.
I just can't say enough good things about our meal. I'm in love. I can easily see us finding an excuse to make the 1.5 hour drive back there just for a meal. It was so spectacular. I really don't know any other way to describe it. If you're planning a trip to the beach for Spring Break or a Summer Getaway, I highly recommend putting this restaurant on your itinerary. Then come back and let me know if you were as blown away as we were.