Zabu is a Korean style chicken joint in the West End.
I have an affinity for fried chicken of sorts and when we noticed this place pop up on Robson we ended up making a couple of trips here in the past week.
In the hopping section of Robson where much of the Korean populace congregate, the ambiance blends alongside with the rowdy 20 something crowd that frequent here, a popular go late at night. The loud music, Korean television and loud Korean banter make up much of the background noise and may make or ruin your dining experience.
The menu is obviously limited with focus around their soy and hot wings. My gf and I shared the soy original, a soy sauce and garlic glaze over deep fried wings. If you've ever had honey garlic spare ribs, these would compare closely but with a more mellow finish from their soy concoction, making for a rather addictive dish despite the basic flavours. Their whole fried chicken is served in small pieces with a crackling skin, accompanied with a ranch type dip and seasoned salt. The finished product comes juicy but lacks the penetrating flavour through the skin. On the whole, it's actually on the bland side for fried chicken. We have also ordered a salad which came with a rice flour coated breast over a bed of mostly green onions and slaw with a heavy soy broth. The result was an overpowering flavour struggle between the over the top saltiness of the soy broth and the sharpness of the scallions. Dishes are served with a coleslaw with light dressing and pickled daikon cubes but beyond that, don't sway from the chicken.
The servers are friendly but slow. This seems to emanate from the kitchen as speed varies from idling to fairly spry. Much has to do with the chicken being made to order but for short stretches, the servers seem to disappear.
Zabu chicken comes with a fairly hefty price tag with chicken that might not necessarily sing praises..
I went for the first (and last time) to Zabu two days ago. I sat on the patio enjoying the warmth and scenes. Ordered the wings. Delicious. ... and then a series of disgusting events occurred right in front of me and my Korean business associate. It was very very disappointing and shocking. It started when a few of the waitresses (5?) came out on their break and started smoking right beside us. They didn't even have the decency to move down the block. It was disgusting ... and then to top it off two of these young girls spat on the sidewalk just before they stepped up onto the wooden patio deck and strutted inside again. My friend and I were appalled. To top it off some guy (25 year old?) came out from the restaurant with one of the waitresses, opened pack of cigarettes, threw all the paper on street, spat again and then rudely blocked the sidewalk. I would have gone over and suggested that he pick up his litter but it was not appropriate because of who I was with. (BTW -- I have trained for years in combat hapkido and would have loved to have taught him a lesson in manners).
I was so outraged to see such low class behaviour that I asked for the bill ($64.00) and we left without finishing off the rest of our order.
Obviously I am never coming back and I am going to ensure that I tell everyone this story and encourage them to avoid Zabu.
After this restaurant goes under then the owners might want to consider selecting and then training their staff better.
I've been waiting for this type of chicekn served in Vancouver area and finally Zabu Chicken has opened. Their chickens are very different from Western style deep fried chickens. They offer 4 different types of deep fried ones; soy sauce batter, regular deep fried, rice batter and red hot chickens. I personally liked the soy sauce batter deep fried chickens and chicken cutlet (it's like Japnese tonkatsu, but with chicken). The radish pickles that come with your order tasted really yummy too. One thing though..you have to be willing to wait at leat 15-20 minutes after your order since, according to the waitress who works there, they cook your food right after you order with fresh chickens, stroking chickens with their special brush with their batter/season loads of times?? I guess that's their secret method of cooking chickens. I'm definately going there again.