If you haven’t heard of Tao, you are living under a rock. They own the #1 (repeatedly) highest grossing restaurant in the United States at their Las Vegas location. Tao New York and their sister restaurant Lavo also sit in the top 7 in the US. This place is like an Asian power keg of cash. I find that most restaurants, when they get too big for their britches, let their quality bar drop. The team at Tao has not fallen victim to this plague.
Admittedly, this place is a little touristy for the tastes of yours truly. However, I do think it’s an NYC institution and I rarely have a friend in town that doesn’t insist we make a visit. The space is larger than life. It is dark and sexy with golden lighting and candles everywhere. A massive 16 foot gold Buddha sits in the center of the restaurant watching you as you dine. There is an enormous dining room, a mezzanine level where you can look down onto the main floor, and private rooms. The music is loud, sexy people are everywhere, and there is a club vibe to the whole setting.
The menu is pan-Asian and designed for sharing. Considering this place basically prints money no matter what they do, I didn’t have high hopes for the food. I was pleasantly surprised. The menu is designed for sharing so you can order many options to split. Their small plates section is great for salmon tataki, tuna tartare, and lobster wontons. If it’s Asian and you want it, they probably have it. There are dumplings, sushi platters, and every kind of noodle. You’ll find classics from all over Asia like Peking duck, pad thai, and crispy orange chicken. They will flame grill the most tender kobe beef you’ve ever tasted, tableside. Tempura, BBQ, and stir-fry options overflow around you. On the weekends they have a great dim sum brunch. Go with a group, be loud, pick at a ton of different food options, and drink too many cocktails. Here’s what we had:
Bamboo Steamed Vegetable Dumplings
Address: 2, 234 East 85th Street, New York, NY 10028