Tao – Tourist Trap or Truly Trendy?

Tao_buddhaThere is one thing about Tao that is really undeniable, the entrance is truly impressive, as you walk into the dining area and find yourself face to face with a towering 16 foot tall buddha you suddenly feel transported to a majestic Asian temple.

Tao_interiorThe hubby and I were escorted to the second floor to a small table for two with great views of the enormous buddha below. This was P’s first time at Tao, I had been here before but it had been about five ago so I was curious to see how the cuisine had held up. I had heard that it had gotten very touristy and real New Yorkers wouldn’t set foot in here anymore.

I started off with the Lychee Martini, a staple that all trendy Asian fusion restaurants should have, and I was very pleased with it. It was made with real lychee puree which is what defines a good lychee martini in my humble opinion.
Tao_lycheemartiniWe of course had the obligatory edamame which we were offered by our server along with the drinks. (Though it was not complimentary).Tao_edamameP and I shared the Spicy Tuna Tartare on Crispy Rice to start which in retrospect I should have known exactly what it was going to look like since it was exactly like a dish I frequently used to order at Ra Sushi in Palm Beach Gardens. But it was not as I had expected… I’m not a huge fan of the spicy tuna “paste” that is frequently created when ordering such a dish. I had pictured more of a “tartare” look with pieces actually resembling fish instead of just mush. With that said, it wasn’t bad, it just was not at all what I had envisioned. The tuna was tasty and the rice was very crispy, but nothing I hadn’t had a million times before at average restaurants. Tao_tunatartareNow perhaps it was my fault for not ordering more exciting options… Next I had the Tao Lo Mein with Roast Pork. I know I should have gotten something more interesting, it was kind of a cop out, but I was in the mood for some lo mein! It was actually good, you could really taste the smoky wok flavors, but it just wasn’t anything too special. Tao_lomeinP got the Wok Seared New York Sirloin with Shiitake Mushrooms and Szechwan Potatoes – I know big surprise there! It wasn’t a huge portion, so I decided not to ask him for a bite. He enjoyed it (as he always enjoys his steak), but he said it wasn’t anything too extraordinary. Tao_sirloinNow, I do regret not going with a larger group so that we could have tasted more plates and done the “family style” dining which is so popular at these sorts of restaurants. And although I was not at all blown away by the food, it is very likely that I would return merely due to the great ambience and amazing decor, and most likely with a large group of friends. It’s no wonder that Tao does so well and continues to have long wait times, it’s a very cool place!

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Tao | www.taorestaurant.com | 42 E. 58th Street

TAO on Urbanspoon

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