Zero Degrees Serves Slow Fast Food Fusion Experience

By Srilekha Cherukuvada, Dreamcatcher Editor in Chief

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  • The hot snack combo, popcorn chicken with honey BBQ and kasian fries, was slathered in a bright orange sauce, which added a delicious soft layer to the crispy chicken.

    Photo By Alondra Garza

  • One of the hot snacks that Zero Degrees sells is the garlic fires, a beautifully crafted salty dish served in an aluminum tin.

    Photo By Alondra Garza

  • Zero Degrees’ famous signature drink, the Mangonada, was served with mango chunks on the top and stood out with its bright yellow color. To the right is the Strawberry Limeade and to the left is the Jasmine Milk Tea with lychee chunks.

    Photo By Alondra Garza

  • The Honey BBQ chicken wings were a good combination of sweet and savory, but were not spicy, like the menu said they would be.

  • The Hot Cheeto Cheese Fries were visually appealing, topped with the bright red Cheeto dust. However, it was not extremely spicy, the cheese was overpowering, and it wasn’t a very unique dish.

  • The entrance of the restaurant, with a bright sign and an eminent “grand opening” poster was very welcoming.

  • Due to the promotions being offered, including the one where the first 25 customers get a free drink, many customers lined up to get a taste of this Mangonada-famous restaurant.

  • Somewhat crowded, there was ample seating in the form of bar stools with a view of the food being prepared.

  • Filled with vibrant decor, the ambience of this restaurant was very friendly and gave an essence of what this place is all about.

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A blast of cool air and loud noises from the kitchen hit us immediately as we strolled into Zero Degrees on one of the Grand Opening days, Sept. 22. Zero Degrees, an Asian-Hispanic fusion chain, specializes in eccentric drinks and hot snacks. Launched in 2013 in Orange County, California, it has since grown to include locations all across Texas, and now the new Cedar Park location. 

The modern, chic, retro area of the new location was decorated minimally with some signs and a red, grey, and black color scheme. Immediately at the front of the store were four-seater tables and a couple tables were also outside to the right of the store. The eating area was very clean and although there weren’t a lot of tables, there was ample bar stool seating area to sit and enjoy the food. The atmosphere of Zero Degrees was extremely social and loud, which made it the perfect place to come to with some friends for a snack or drink. The visible drink-making space made it convenient for customers to view when their drink was ready and before the employees handed the drinks out, they would check the receipt to make sure the order was correct. Some other cool features of Zero Degrees include the free wifi, mason jar drinks, and the split cup, which combined two drinks into one cup. The store also offers unique toppings like the mango twist and makes all their food fresh. 

The service at the counter where we ordered was slow and a long line was starting to build up behind us by the second. Although the service wasn’t up to par, the employees were all incredibly nice and provided us with our drinks fairly fast. The food service, unfortunately, took much longer than we expected. However, the benefit of this was that the cooks were preparing all of the food on the spot, so we were guaranteed freshness.

Altogether, we ordered three drinks and four snacks. First, we tried the signature Mangonada, which is a very popular and well-known slushy. At first look, the Mangonada was gorgeous, topped with delicious sweet mangos on the top. The twist with this drink and what took it to the next level was the balanced spicy aftertaste. The spices they added made the mango drink not just a slushy, but added a new layer to the flavor palette. For additional texture, the Mangonada also had mango chunks in it so customers could chew the mangoes as they drank the icy drink. Overall, the Mangonada was full-bodied, balanced, and sweet, and embodied the fusion essence of Zero Degrees.

Next, we had the Strawberry Limeade from their signature fruit mix section. The lime came off as very strong on the first sip, but the strawberry flavor snuck in as an aftertaste. It seemed like the perfect drink for a hot day, with little chunks of lime and strawberries, similar to the Mangonada’s mango chunks, adding to the drink’s texture. This was a unique component, but I’m not so sure I enjoyed it very much as I had random chunks pop into my mouth as I was drinking. However, if you don’t love sour flavors, you should skip the Strawberry Limeade and try the Jasmine Milk Tea from the classics section of their menu. The Jasmine Milk Tea, which we got with Coconut Lychee Jelly, was especially sweet with an overpowering sugary flavor. However, like the Strawberry Limeade, the jasmine comes as an afterthought to the drink. The drink in all seemed like a milkshake, with the lychee jelly adding a boba type texture to the drink.

From the hot snacks section, we tried the Xxtra Flamin Hot Cheetos Cheese Fries, the Garlic Butter Salt Fries, and the Honey Barbeque Chicken Wings. Both bases for the fries were not as crispy as we would’ve liked and much thinner than the fries you would typically find at McDonalds or Burger King. It was also noticeably less oily than typical fries. However, they had the standard, thin, classic potato flavor. The cheese fries were topped with nacho cheese and crushed flamin hot cheetos. The cheese, unfortunately, made the fries quite soggy and it was bland in general. Although the hot cheetos added some spice to the overall flavor, the cheese fries didn’t stand out as a front-runner. 

The Garlic Butter Salt Fries were topped with an unexpectedly sweet sauce and the garlic taste was indistinguishable. Although the fries were undoubtedly fresh and hot when they arrived, it didn’t satisfy our taste for the saltiness. They needed something to elevate the dish and have a stronger flavor palette. We were expecting it to have more garlic and salt, but instead received a sweet sauce, which, like the cheese fries, soaked the base. Overall, this wasn’t the best work from Zero Degrees.

What caught our eyes next were the Honey Barbeque Chicken Wings, which were a good combination of sweet and sour. The barbeque flavor attracted much attention and the wings were not spicy as the menu had indicated. The six-piece bone-in wings looked like typical red-tinted wings from any chicken place with an average smooth texture. The sauce was evident and added to the overall taste by creating a new layer on the moist chicken. Altogether, this snack was a very average dish with nothing really special standing out about it.

Finally, from the combo section, we tried the Popcorn Chicken Combo. The popcorn chicken was glazed with a golden honey sauce, which had a distinct sensational flavor. Dipping the popcorn chicken in the provided dip made the flavors stand out even more. It would’ve been nice if there was more ranch provided to give the savory palate a boost. Overall, the Popcorn Chicken combo seemed like a perfect meal, as it was served with fries and customers can add on a drink.

The pricing of the food was pretty reasonable. The drinks all ranged from $4.25 to $5.50, while the snacks were between $4.50 and $7.50, and the combo cost $9.00. The drinks were definitely all worth the price, but the snacks could’ve been a little more on the cheaper side than what they were priced at. However, Zero Degrees has many different promotions and offers a punch card, so in all, the cost to eat or grab a drink there doesn’t seem that horrible.

The best part about my trip to Zero Degrees had to be the experience as a whole. The employees positively influenced my visit from the start with their kind recommendations. The unique fusion menu choices took us through an entire journey across Mexico and Asia. The fusion between Mexico and Asia is unpopular, and you can’t really find it anywhere else, which provides a distinct aspect to the restaurant chain as a whole. Even though the food wasn’t up to par, the drink combinations were one of a kind and I hadn’t seen or tasted them before. 

In general, Zero Degrees, was satisfying and peculiar. Although there were some stunning moments for the drinks, the snacks didn’t seem up to the same standard. All of the combinations were unique and distinct, but unfortunately, the flavors just didn’t come together the way we wanted them to. The service and decor were both average and the food took an extremely long time to come out. If you choose to go to Zero Degrees, keep in mind that the restaurant is more about a unique fusion experience rather than a fast food place. Although it gives off fast food vibes, you should take your time here and truly enjoy the unique flavor combinations. 

 

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of five stars

Zero Degrees

800 West Whitestone, Suite B-5, Cedar Park, Texas 78613

Monday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

https://www.zerodegreescompany.com/

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