Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Tao Cafe

Tao Cafe on Urbanspoon
I was quite excited to be heading to another lunch buffet. That's what my life is for - buffets buffets buffets for breakfast lunch and dinner :D Too much of a good thing is a good thing.
Little Lamb had some promo flyers out advertising buffet lunch for $12.90 or something. I wanted to starve the night before in anticipation for this.

Sadly, very very sadly, I was going to see a circus the next day (lol? Exciting life huh.) and was running behind with times. As such, Tao Cafe became an appealing option instead. I was left with good impressions the last time I ate here. More on that later.

So when you hear of a restaurant as a fusion of 3 very delicious but very distinctly different cuisines, what do you think? The initial time I saw the combination of Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine PLUS A SUSHI TRAIN in the one dining place, I scrunched up my nose.

Multiculturally creative, yes. But also messy and risky, equally or even more yes.
How good are you, chef? Reminds me of me, unable to choose one so what the heck, lets just chuck them altogether and hope for the best shall we?

I wanted to try a dish from each Asian cuisine from the menu but the delicious memories of what I had last time wouldn't let me try something new. Had to have it again. Yes, HAD to! That's what happens when you've got a strong attachment to your foods. You get really clingy. And then you probably get sick of the same thing. Less is more, guys. Remember that.

Ended up choosing from the Vietnamese and Thai section. Sob. Japanese cuisine will have to wait. Can't believe I put my favourite on hold.

Lets start off with my number one favourite - rice! I'm such a rice bucket. I don't seem to get full without it and meals just feel...incomplete. Needless to say life would feel empty without this companion.

This came all pretty and round. Don't underestimate though, this dome structure cost $2.50. :( It's pretty smart to not include rice with meals, cause then people order it extra. It just sucks though.

Green Curry - $15.50
This dish was what I tried last time that I can remember polishing off entirely. A littleee bit salty but that's when the rice comes in to save the day. Personally I think more meat/vegetables should be thrown in for that price. But it IS nice.

You get the choice of chicken or beef or go vegetarian for this for the same price or choose prawns and pay an extra $3. Naturally I chose chicken, it's like the best thing on 2 legs ever. And the perfect accompaniment to a classic Thai green curry.

Vegetables - usual suspects being capsicum, green beans. More variety would have been even better! I took the sauce home and that was my dinner for the night. So sad :( So no, it doesn't really suffice for two meals.

Pad Thai Noodles - $14.50
Sadly this was nicer the first time I tried it. I can't pinpoint what has changed, but I was able to stop myself from eating it when I was full, unlike last time, when I just kept going. Sigh. See, don't know how to resist.

Again, got the choice of chicken/beef/vegetarian or prawn, but this time that's $4 extra. Just because.

It looks like a deceptively small serving size but noodles have got that real sly ability to make you think you can demolish everything, when you actually can't. Stir fried noodles with egg, bean sprouts, spring onion in tamarind sauce means the dish has got this slightly sweet, slightly sour taste that goes down easily. And crushed peanuts on the side! - that I usually just eat on their own in one go.

Cause I am so totally in love with nuts.
Any kind of nuts.

I know this is nothing special but I still had to take a photo. The lights fitted in the restaurant somehow gives all their decor and foods a sparkly gleaming finish. If you haven't noticed, all the photos here are like hell shiny and sparkly and practically GLEAMS on my camera display :)
And we all know food tastes better when it sparkles =p

Self explanatory. This is served because we ordered Pho. Some mint leaves, fresh bean sprouts, lemon, cut chilli and some Hoisin and chilli sauce.

Pho Tai Bo Vien - $13.50
I didn't really want to order this at first because I thought, man, I can probably get better pho at an actual Vietnamese restaurant and for a cheaper price too AND I can get the dac biet which includes all the awesome scraps of animals like tripe and beef tendon and cow tail and wow that just sounds like we are from the wild. But no, they are delicious scraps, really!

Tao Cafe's version includes rice noodles in a traditional beef soup with green onions, sliced raw beef, beef balls and coriander. You pay an extra $2 for those few beef balls, which they probably profit a heap from.

Verdict? Not too bad! Because there was something that probably made it so much more interesting to eat. Or eat out of.

Bonus points for the bowl that this pho is served in. Its circumference was comparable to that of a normal bowl this dish is typically served in, but this is so so much deeper. This is one of the angles you can see cyclone shaped that bowl is. And damn, cyclones can hold so much at their core.

                                           So how often do you eat out of a flower vase?


Tao Cafe is *relatively* new but based on my personal judgement I think they will go a long way. Their decor is fresh and modern and offers a variety of seating options - conventional tables and chairs, booths as well as seating around the sushi train. Which I have yet to try!

Meal prices are decent, but if you really want to compare, then there ARE plenty of other cheaper options. Especially nearby. Decent, but you can probably get the same dish elsewhere for less. Staff are friendly and service is pretty efficient, which is always good, and should be a benchmark for restaurants anyways.

So anyway, I was a bit skeptical about the whole 3-cuisines-mashed-together idea. And contradictory to what I said before but I thought...too much of a good thing can't be a good thing. Like too good to be true sorta thing. But turns out pretty goooooooood! Just gotta have faith, peeps. Give everything a shot. And THEN only give it crap, if it's actually genuinely crap.

So anyway. Why did I have good impressions of this place?
One magic word: discount!
Like, free discount! Like, good-hearted no reason discount! Like, walked outside afterwards with a puzzled look and a thought bubble rising above my head saying "why did I just get that discount?"
I will never know.

That happened the first time I was there. The waitress charged the full prices of all meals and drinks (as expected) and the extra 50c/$1 or whatever it was for the extra takeaway container for my curry sauce (yes, I did the same thing last time...). No problemo.
Another guy came to the counter while we were paying and took over, presumably of a higher position, or maybe even the owner. He looked at our bill, put it aside, and did up a new bill for us. A nicer looking bill.

Mysteriously, a few dollars had disappeared. I'm not complaining. Noticably he had taken off some dollars off the meals or he didn't charge the drink or something.
Must be my charm.
Like...must be right? Ho ho ho what can I say =p
Maybe thank you to Tao, for their generosity :)


  1. I've actually been there twice now. I think it's okay, kinda like a better version of Hans Cafe.

  2. That pad thai looks gooooood.
    By the way, I ate at Spoon the other day. Their "hainanese chicken rice" came out as just rice, deep fried chicken (even though it said on the menu as roasted chicken) and chilli sauce. Definitely not hainanese :(


So what did you eat today?

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