Monday, June 22, 2009

Tao

I had a friend visiting from Greece. And another coming in from NJ. We planned on having dinner together. I was in charge of picking a place. I wanted some place trendy that had a good variety of dishes. It can be a little difficult at times because one friend only eats chicken for meat. So I thought Tao was a good choice. We had reservations at 7:15pm on a Tuesday night. But we arrived early (6:15p) hoping we could eat earlier. We were starving. The hostess kindly said that she had a table ready but we would have to be finished by 7:45pm. Not a problem! We sat upstairs near the second lounge. We quickly ordered some cocktails, lychee and jade blossom martinis ($12.50 each). They were good and strong. Unfortunately, our waiter disappeared for awhile. We had to flag down a busboy who went to the manager who then flagged down our waiter. We ordered from the prix fixe menu (3 courses for $38). It's only offered from 5-7pm or after 11pm. This is a great deal considering the regular menu is way overpriced. Basically making it not worth it. Anyhow, we decided to each pick different things so that we can try each others dishes. For appetizer, I ordered the pork pot stickers. They had the crispy tuna and Tao salad. The dumplings tasted good but very generic. I can find the same (and better) in Chinatown. Like I said, thank god for the prixe fixe. The crispy tuna was good as well. It was rare on the inside and a light crispy crust on the outside. It came with a wasabi sauce that my friend loved. I liked this the best. The salad was very mediocre. Disappointing in fact. Just lots of normal greens and some crispy flat noodles on top. Boring. For entree, I ordered the miso Chilean sea bass. They had the wasabi crusted filet migon and kung pao chicken. The fish was a very large portion. It came with sauteed veggies that sopped up the sauce. It tasted good. The fish wasn't dry and flaked off easily. The miso was very apparent. This is supposed to be their signature dish. I can see why. Even my chicken-only friend had a slight bite. The filet looked good as well. She ordered it medium but it looked more cooked. But it was very tender considering she was eating it with chopsticks! Steak with chopsticks? Yes, it happened. The kung pao chicken was the best kung pao I've had. Mainly because the chicken wasn't overly breaded and you can taste the meat in it. The sauce was sweet and sour. It was with white rice and lots of veggies. However, this was obviously my least favorite of the three dishes. For dessert, I had the sugar dusted doughnuts (I love doughnuts), and they both ordered the chocolate spring rolls. If it weren't for a prix fixe, I wouldn't have ordered dessert. I was stuffed by now. And anything sweet would have put me over the top. And it did. The doughnuts were warm and soft. It came with a fruit-y dipping sauce that I didn't care for. The chocolate spring rolls were warm when they came out. The chocolate was melted inside and the outside was very crispy. It was good. Each plate came with four rolls. And it was a struggle to finish them. All in all, I enjoyed my meal. It was good but nothing special. I wouldn't pay anything more than the prix fixe price for the food. Expensive Chinese food just irks me. I know how cheap and delicious it can be. I know the effort that goes into making it. And it really should not be costing as much as some of these places charge. I understand that some ingredients are exotic and will cost more. But most of these places aren't serving anything exotic. Shark fin soup anyone? I wouldn't choose to go here myself again unless the situation comes up that I'm entertaining some out of town guests (which I need to impress) or certain dietary restrictions are involved. Tao Restaurant 42 East 58th Street New York, NY 10022 (212) 888-2288 taorestaurant.com

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