Saturday, 17 September 2011

Restaurant Review: Tao's

Location: 201 Bulleen Rd, Bulleen
Phone: (03) 9852 0777
Cuisine: Fusion?
Overall Impression: 6/10

The danger with fusion cuisine is that there is a lot more room for error. In Tao’s case, I am not sure I would even classify the cuisine it serves as ‘fusion’. There are dishes from different cultures all over the menu but there is no fusion in the equation. Take for example, our entrees: the drunken chicken dish is distinctly Shanghainese, the Ka-seki Sashimi is Japanese and the Beef Consommé is without a doubt Taiwanese. The dishes themselves are not a result of ‘fusion’. They simply exist on the same menu.
Tao's Seasonal Assorted Platter
The Oyster was beautifully fresh. However, the balance of flavours in the vinaigrette that accompanied it was not quite right. It was too sweet. The dip that was to be eaten with the bread stick was very pedestrian and the rolled cured meat around a small piece of cucumber was at best, underwhelming.
Raw Beef Nigiri with Sesame Sauce
The sesame sauce went incredibly well with the Beef Nigiri. The beef itself was tender and delectable.
Tao’s Drunken Chicken
The chicken was wonderfully tender and infused with a beautiful rice wine flavour. It brought back memories of eating drunken chicken in Shanghai. It was perfectly seasoned and well balanced.
Kai-seki Style Sashimi
The sashimi was very fresh and enjoyable.
Teapot Style Bonitto Dobimushi
This soup was very disappointing. It tasted like it had been made of frozen marinara mix that had been boiled with water with a bit of instant miso soup mix added to the mixture at the end.  
Beef Consommé
The beef consommé was very good. It was basically a Taiwanese style beef brisket. Although it was a clear soup, it was smacked full of flavour. The beef was tender and flavoursome.
Palate cleanser - Plum shots
Baked Ocean Trout with Sweet Corn Paste
The Trout was unfortunately overcooked. The sweet corn paste did not do the dish any favours.
Hot Stone Sizzling Steak
The black pepper seasoning worked very well. The Steak arrived, sizzling on the plate. As such, it was ‘perfectly cooked’ in the sense that if you were not a fan of medium-rare steak, all you had to do was wait for a while longer. The steak was juicy, tender and had a very good flavour to it. The stir-fried side dish consisting of vegetables were an odd presence on the plate. It was not very good by itself and it did not go well with the steak either. It is worth noting that the exact same side dish was used for all the main dishes that we had.  
Marinated Rack of Lamb
The lamb was cooked perfectly. Tender and delicious, the mint sauce matched the lamb very well.
Rice of the Day
Almond Tart with Custard Sauce
This dish was disconcerting. What was described as an almond tart was 4 unpitted cherries sandwiched between two biscuits with custard drizzled inside it.
Crème brûlée
Coffee Cheese Cake
The coffee cheese cake was particularly good. The caramelised popcorn brought a ‘crunch’ element to the dish and the coffee reduction on the plate brought a depth to the whole dessert.

All in all, it was an enjoyable meal. Most people I know either hate or love Tao’s. Personally, it does not invoke in me any strong emotions on either side of the spectrum. For the very reasonable price we paid ($38 for a 6 course degustation), I thought it was fair. Notably, the food was far more pleasing to the eye than to the taste bud. However, nothing was particularly bad. The ambience was lovely. The service was impeccable. The timing of each dish was difficult to fault. I would recommend this restaurant for a lazy Sunday lunch.   

Tao's on Urbanspoon

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