Tao’s Modern Pacific Cuisine has certainly come a long way since it first opened back in 2003. When A and I stumbled upon it back then, we were one of the few tables in the place. Since then, it’s been steadily growing in popularity, and for good reason. For a fixed price of $24.80 (for dinner), you get a 7 course meal, with at least 4 choices each for the salad, soup, main course and dessert.
The service here has always been impeccable – the wait staff have always been personable without being too in-your-face, and we’ve never had to wait excessively long between courses. On Saturday night, I called them at about 7.30 to make a reservation, only to be told that I could just turn up and walk in. When we got there, the place was packed and there was a line of about 8 people, so naturally I was infuriated. I strode to the front of the queue, to the annoyance of the people waiting in line but TOUGH. I expressed my displeasure to one of the waiters, who apologised and immediately set up a table for us. I was marginally appeased but was still considering writing a harsh comment in their feedback form, when suddenly our food came at a remarkable pace and all the wait staff were desperately trying to placate us. I guess they were afraid that I would lodge a complaint with their manager or something, so they tried their hardest to make our dinner as pleasant as possible. I must say they did a good job.
Anyway, enough drama and on to the food. As a first course, everyone gets a bacon and cheese gratin with thick slices of buttered toast for dipping. Second course is salad – you get a choice of about 4. I had the seasonal cocktail, which was prawn with a mashed potato salad. A had the Italian caprese salad, which was a low-end version of insalata caprese – mozzarella and tomato salad. Next up is a great grilled mushroom dish drizzled with teriyaki sauce. After that is the soup course – again there’s a choice of 4, but we both always have the cream of mushroom. The soup is surprisingly good; it certainly rivals the mushroom soups in higher-end restaurants, and it doesn’t skimp on the mushrooms, as there are lots of chopped-up bits of mushroom inside.
Main course is next, and thankfully the portions are fairly small as you’re getting pretty full by now. There are a mind-boggling eight choices for the main course. The specialities are the slow-cooked baby back ribs and the lamb cutlet. A always has the lamb cutlet, and I used to have the roasted cod but they’ve recently taken that off the menu. On Saturday night I had the herb crusted sole fillet, which was also very good.
For dessert, there are about 5 to choose from, but in my opinion don’t even bother looking at the rest, and just go for the crème brulee. It ROCKS. Of course, A has no taste and always orders the green tea ice cream… To wash it all down, you get a final course of a hot or cold drink, ranging from the usual coffee or tea, to Tao’s speciality ice fruit teas. The grape and mallow tea is my personal favourite.
I definitely recommend this place for a very pleasant and satisfying meal. Word of warning: (1) don’t go if you’re in an indecisive mood because the sheer array choices will do you in, and (2) no matter what anyone tells you, insist on making a reservation…
It seems that I’m not the only one scared of being abused by C.
I always thought it was some fancy schmancy place until we actually tried it and found it to be pretty laid back. Waiters are friendly and actually know their stuff.
I have to disagree with C on her comment on the array of choices as since you have to order the set, it’s pretty simple. Easier than wondering if you should have salad or a soup or a dessert etc… You just get a bit of everything in smaller portions so you just choose what you like from each group.
Anyway, the variety doesn’t mean much to me since I usually always have the same thing:
1. Starter – Bacon & Cheese Gratin – My favourite!
2. Salad – Italian caprese salad – Passable. Since they took the potato salad off the menu, I’ve not had a decent salad.
3. Grilled Mushrooms – Available at dinner only – 2nd King!
4. Soup – Cream of Mushroom – Nice and thick!
5. Main Entrée – Marinated Lamb Cutlet – Pretty good. If you’re not sure, ask the waiters. They give pretty good recommendations.
6. Dessert – Green Tea Ice Cream – After chocolate milkshakes, I’ve got a soft spot for these.
7. Beverage – Ice Summer Peach Tea – Always interesting. They give you a small pot and a fork to spear the chunks of fruit.
All in all, it’s pretty good value for money. Definitely worth a visit for simple fusion fare. But here’s a tip, unless you’re into Xinyao (those earnest local Mandarin songwriters/performers), don’t sit outside. They have performances there almost every night and it’s hard to have a proper conversation with the noise.
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