Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Aug 20, 2007 09:15 AM

Must haves at Tao?

I am going to Tao for an intimate dinner for two on this coming Wednesday. Since I have heard much hype about this restaurant...I was wondering if there were any must-eats on their menu. The menu itself seems very similar to Buddakan.

If anybody has had any experiences here, I would love some friendly diner-ly advice.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The Wonton dessert is excellent. Dont love the apps.

    1. Must have reservations somewhere else. It is similar to Buddakan - which is why I think an intimate dinner for two is not a good idea. Those places are better for groups.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mccan

        Agreed. However, they do make a great cocktail.

        1. re: mccan

          You must eat dinner before you go.

          In all seriousness, the food is okay. Not great but not bad but certainly not worth the cost or the effort.

        2. had the rock shrimp tempura & miso glazed chilean sea bass... both very tasty... though if you've had em at nobu, they're not as good.

          be forewarned that it's more a scene than intimate and, even with reservations, you can potentially wait up to an hour for your table.... so plan/snack accordingly (preferably prior as the bar area can be very crowded while you wait).

          2 Replies
          1. re: thievery

            The Thai bouillabaisse-type entree is quite nice.

            1. re: jeanki

              The lobster wonton with shitake mushroom brother for an appetizer is amazing. I can drink the brother. I would also highly suggest the peking duck for two. I LOVE Tao. I think the giant fortune cookie with black and white chocolate mousse is great too.

          2. I have been to Tao many times at lunch and there are a few good dishes I'd recommend:

            Crispy Tuna Sashimi Rolls
            Wasabi Crusted Filet Mignon
            All of the dumplings were good, but way overpriced (what do you expect)

            Oh and the place is massive and loud... intimate is the last word that comes to mind. Hope you enjoy it, though. It's overpriced, sure, but it's worth a visit in my opinion (at least once).

            1 Reply
            1. re: jakew8

              Maybe intimate isn't the best word to SO and I are just both enthusiasts of dining. If the ambiance is fun and loud, then so be long as the food and service is good, we'll have fun!

            2. Dined at Tao tonight....the only way I can sum it up with is overrated.

              I ate the laquered pork loin appetizer and the wasabi crusted filet mignon. My girlfriend had the steamed chicken and waterchestnut dumplings...her original entree was the Thai bouillabaise style entree, which the server described as "medium spicy", when it arrived she said it was as bland as could be and tasted like fish-mush in tea water. She had to send it back and switched it to a spicy schezuan style shimp entree.

              After dining at both Buddakan and Tao now, I feel like both of these monster neo-Asian restaurants seem formulaic at last, trying to branch of the sucess of Nobu and other fine asian restaurants in NYC. Yes, this is a fun place for a large group of tourists, but I would probably not put up with the aesthetic bombardment of my senses again for this food.

              Thanks for everyone's input!

              2 Replies
              1. re: foodieforthought

                We just had dinner Saturday night at Tao and I found it pretty disappointing. I guess that's the right word. Overrated atmosphere (deafening music, loaded with tourists), and food that was no better than I've had at average chinese places, but twice the price. And my favorite part: getting seated for our "reservation" an hour late. That's actually the part that I find most unacceptable but that I feel like is now completely standard practice in NY. Why can't restaurants build a seating and reservation chart that enables those with reservations to be seated at least near the time they reserved for? It's disrespectful, and also trashes the other plans patrons may have for the evening.

                Not even close to worth a return visit.

                1. re: foodieforthought

                  Foodieforthought, have to agree with you. We found TAO ... (translation): Tasteless And Overrated!

                  No matter how many bad reviews are written here or on any other board, this place continues to pack them in. We had dinner here on a Saturday, arrived at 7 and our party of 8 was seated ahead of our 7:15 resv, so no complaints as the place was packed.

                  The kitchen is definately setup for speed. Food has to be cooked ahead of time and held in warmers and coolers as on a packed Saturday night, our order for 8 was delivered within 5-10 minutes (a mix of specialty rolls, Peking duck for 2, sushi, chicken special, soups, and apps).

                  The food was bland, tasteless and luke warm.

                  Bus boys must be paid by how many plates they collect. They swarm to the table at the drop of a fork onto an empty (or almost empty) plate.

                  Little chance to talk over the music.

                  This place is an overhyped cash cow whose formula is: get them in, sit them down, feed them, push them out, reload and do it again.

                  Ranks right up there with the Hard Rock Cafe's, Planet Hollywoods, ESPN Zones, Rainforest Cafe's and other NYC culinary greats!