Zao is a restaurant chain who has come across a pretty good idea. Why not become the Mickey D's of the noodle? I would say that the idea works, except here in good ole' SF, there are about 1 million noodle shops with people who have passed on the recipes for years. So what's Zao's angle?

Zao tries to combine American and Chinese tastes. Trendiness, good food, familiar flavors, all in a slick environment. So you get a fusion of sauces, flavors and ideas about how to prepare the dexterous noodle.

What's Wrong: On the trendy side, and with inconsistent service, Zao has to be seen for what it is. Although purists will complain about how it's not authentic. I counter, what do you expect from a chain restaurant? Zao is not for your avid noodle fan, for them there is Japantown.

What's Good: The grilled chicken salad, Vietnamese noodles, and chicken noodle soup are all good. You really can't go wrong with sake or a beer and bowl of delicious noodles.