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“Small portions, poor quality”

Zenyai Thai Cuisine
Ranked #231 of 528 Restaurants in Santa Barbara
Cuisines: Asian, Thai
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Waitstaff
Paso Robles Wine Region, California
Level Contributor
119 reviews
70 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 96 helpful votes
“Small portions, poor quality”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 11, 2012

Very disappointed! I went for dinner on Friday night 9/7/12 with my teen son & adult daughter. We love Thai food & the reviews on Yelp gave us the encouragement to try it. We were disappointed, and frankly I am surprised that people in the SB area are so easily pleased by mediocre food. We ordered some brown rice that was fine. We ordered green curry with tofu & I didn't think it was possible to ruin tofu, but they did. It was too chewy, like a rubberband (reminded me of snails) & the middle felt empty. I think it was really old. Like it was stir fried a couple days before. It seemed the tofu was dehydrated. The curry sauce was good,but the serving of green curry was pretty small. We ordered stir fried vegetables to be healthy & the serving was really tiny. A few vegetables with chicken and a couple noodles thrown in. Not enough for even one person. Lastly we ordered fried rice with chicken that was ok, but as in the stir fried veges. with chicken, the chicken was hard to find. We also ordered an appetizer (so we would have enough food for 3 people LOL), and it was the cream cheese puffs but they add some scallop pieces in it which isn't need & then people like my son who don't really like all seafood won't try it. The restaurant is located in an area that isn't great and at night the homeless are all over the sidewalks. The shop next door had Xrated stuff in the window, so it was embarrassing to be walking past with my teen son and my daughter. Across the street was a crappy 99cent store. The restaurant is very tiny with not enough tables to really make a profit, so maybe that is why the portions are half size. There is no outdoor dining either. Seats maybe 25 people roughly. For ambiance there was an actual traffic light in the restaurant with all red lenses which lent a nice red glow to the room, but the traffic light was out of place in a Thai eatery. I didn't check out the restrooms.

I would not recommend that anyone eat there. It was also difficult to understand the older woman who was waiting on us & she acted like she was too busy to speak to us about our order.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank MOTHERLOAD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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54 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    20
    18
    7
    6
    3
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Paso Robles Wine Region, California
Level Contributor
119 reviews
70 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 96 helpful votes
“Small portions, poor quality”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 10, 2012

Very disappointed! I went for dinner on Friday night 9/7/12 with my teen son & adult daughter. We love Thai food & the reviews on Yelp gave us the encouragement to try it. We were disappointed, and frankly I am surprised that people in the SB area are so easily pleased by mediocre food. We ordered some brown rice that was fine. We ordered green curry with tofu & I didn't think it was possible to ruin tofu, but they did. It was too chewy, like a rubberband (reminded me of snails) & the middle felt empty. I think it was really old. Like it was stir fried a couple days before. It seemed the tofu was dehydrated. The curry sauce was good,but the serving of green curry was pretty small. We ordered stir fried vegetables to be healthy & the serving was really tiny. A few vegetables with chicken and a couple noodles thrown in. Not enough for even one person. Lastly we ordered fried rice with chicken that was ok, but as in the stir fried veges. with chicken, the chicken was hard to find. We also ordered an appetizer (so we would have enough food for 3 people LOL), and it was the cream cheese puffs but they add some scallop pieces in it which isn't need & then people like my son who don't really like all seafood won't try it. The restaurant is located in an area that isn't great and at night the homeless are all over the sidewalks. The shop next door had Xrated stuff in the window, so it was embarrassing to be walking past with my teen son and my daughter. Across the street was a crappy 99cent store. The restaurant is very tiny with not enough tables to really make a profit, so maybe that is why the portions are half size. There is no outdoor dining either. Seats maybe 25 people roughly. For ambiance there was an actual traffic light in the restaurant with all red lenses which lent a nice red glow to the room, but the traffic light was out of place in a Thai eatery. I didn't check out the restrooms.

I would not recommend that anyone eat there. It was also difficult to understand the older woman who was waiting on us & she acted like she was too busy to speak to us about our order.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank MOTHERLOAD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oz
Level Contributor
193 reviews
86 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“Flavour did not match the hype”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 6, 2012

Many reviewers on another site raved and rated this restaurant very highly so tried 2 dishes that all Thai restaurants should do well pad thai and pad see ew. This was take-out by the way.
Pad Thai was below par - not very flavoursome, and no standard Thai condiments (chilli vinegar, chilli, chilli fish sauce etc) were provided [compared to the take out from another Thai place in San Francisco which provided condiments].
Pad see ew - a bit too sweet and lack zest.
Also tried their 'special' some thing called Zen Yai Online. The ingredients were as listed in the menu. It is not traditional Thai food so I would call it Thai fusion. It's OK but the basil was too overpowering.
I could not really recommend this restaurant at all.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
Thank TheUnicorn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carefree, Arizona
Level Contributor
111 reviews
50 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
“It was ok, but nothing special.........”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 18, 2012

We got a referral from three people at the Apple store who raved about Zen Yai's food. We have been to dozens of Thai restaurants in the western states, and were unimpressed. When we entered, the taciturn hostess made us wait for a two-top to empty, even though a four-top was available and we were toward the end of the evening. Then we waited a while for service and a glass of water. The pumpkin curry was pleasant and quite good. The Pad See Yew was quite bland and lacked the more sophisticated spices we have had regularly elsewhere. The mango/sticky rice dessert had a very good mango, but the use of black sticky rice (almost al dente and very chewy) took away from the mango. Dinner was ok, but we will look elsewhere for Thai food in Santa Barbara.

  • Visited July 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank AJandMR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grand Junction, Colorado
Level Contributor
48 reviews
36 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Fun Thai restaurant”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 21, 2012

Wonderful Thai restaurant on State Street. We had wonderful dinners (large servings so we could have made do with 2 or 3 dishes for the 4 of us). The sticky rice is very, very sticky and served in a woven basket. It felt like a family owned restaurant (often the best kind) and the people serving were wonderful. They dealt with an obnoxious complaining fellow dinner with grace and class.

  • Visited June 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank GJColorado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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