Last night we set out for Tao (around 58th and Park) for some after work dinner and drinks. We had received some gift cards for Tao so it was time to cash in.

I’ll give it this much – it certainly is an interesting space but more akin to a restaurant that businessmen and tourists and wanna-be’s would gravitate to and unfortunately mistakenly believe that it is a good dining experience in NYC. However, as my wife said, in a city where you can have the best of everything, why would anyone come here?

Indeed, why would they? Although we did not have a reservation, we were promptly seated at a large table under the stipulation that we would be done in an hour and a half, which was fine by us. We tried some of the fried dumplings which were adequate but were brought out disturbingly quickly (think simple re-heating of pre-made dumplings) and could have easily come out of the freezer section of Trader Joe’s. My wife order a couple rolls of sushi but they too were quite ordinary and I had the Kung Pao Chicken which wasn’t even as good as mid-tier Asian fare from Big Bowl.

The only saving grace was dessert – a giant Fortune Cookie filled with white and dark chocolate mousse. However, we waited nearly 15 minutes to place our dessert order. We held our end of the bargain up, but they didn’t in terms of ensuring speedy service. Also, we noticed some of the hosts urging a couple men seated close by to take their entrees (they had held off because they were waiting for a friend). Again, restaurants should make their guests feel welcome, not seat them quickly and then try to rush them through their meal so that they can usher in the next round of guests.

Lastly, as we walked out of the loud and packed Tao, it was interesting to see how people had filled the place (from corporate outings to shady men in suits with dolled-up dames) and how it was a bit of a “scene” – but I was left with very ordinary food, high prices and bad service as my memories. Good thing it was a free meal thanks to those gift cards.


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