Almost a delish zen state of mind

Offering an assortment of Asian delights, Tao is worth a shot to grab a bite of pungent flavours

Photo: AYSHA SALEEM/Yumna Fatima February 26, 2015


The new pan-Asian restaurant that recently opened its doors at Boat Basin has quickly become the talk of the town with diners queuing outside to grab a table even on weeknights. Offering a wide array of modern Asian cuisine, ranging from Japanese to Thai and Chinese, Tao offers something for everyone on their menu.

Served warm instead of stifling hot, the  Crispy Beef was rich and spicy to the point of being over-seasoned. PHOTOS: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

Quality – 4/5

Starting off with wasabi prawns and crispy California rolls, we realised both appetisers are justly some of Tao’s most admired offerings. The prawns, coated in tempura batter and wasabi aioli, were light with a positively-pungent zing. The crispy California rolls with crab, cucumber and avocado wrapped in nori and rice had the perfect crunch. The sushi is prepped fresh at the live sushi bar and is the focal point of the non-smoking dining area. The main courses is where the food started to lose steam, literally. Served warm instead of stifling hot, the Crispy Beef was rich and spicy to the point of being over-seasoned. Meanwhile, the Kimball Chicken, stir-fried in a chilli sauce, was a total let down with its overcooked and rubbery texture. Given the generous servings, it’s unlikely you’ll have much space for dessert but Tao doesn’t yet have a dessert menu to offer.

According to the restaurant manager, Farrukh, Tao imports its sushi as well as the spices and condiments from Dubai, ensuring superior quality. Rounding up at around Rs1,200 to 1,500 per head with generous portion sizes, it’s not too bad on value. While the main courses would only get three stars, it’s the starters and sushi that kick up the score.

Presentation – 3/5

The main courses were presented with simplicity yet tastefully. Exuding a kind of minimalism, the arrangement of the entrées was easy to access for the diners. The prawns were served in martini glasses, while the sushi was presented in a straight-forward fashion on wooden trays.

Service – 3.5/5

With a hands-on owner and plenty of attentive waiters and servers, service at Tao was quick – only if you can get a table. Starters are brought to the table within 10 minutes of placing the order, as is the sushi, while the entrées take around half an hour.  The owner can be seen moving amongst the diners at night, personally inquiring about their experience and making sure any complaints or requests are immediately seen to. The friendly waiters are well-informed about the menu and they too make sure to stop by now and again for feedback. There were times it almost got annoying but we keep in mind that Tao is a new eatery and clearly seeking to improve.

Atmosphere – 3/5

Spread over two floors, Tao tries to realise a Zen atmosphere by showcasing water features, shadowy wood, mood lighting and cool tones but the ambience can get overpowered by how crowded the restaurant can get – the desired effect comes across much better at lunch, when there are fewer diners. The manager did, however, assure us that they were planning to expand into the adjacent building soon.

Verdict: Tao is a promising new entrant on the city’s busy food scene. While it does need to exert effort on the main courses (and maybe offer a dessert menu), its sushi, starters and the number of temptingly untried options on the extensive menu make it a place worth revisiting.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th,  2015.

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