Like Sushi Samba, Tao is a nightclub as well as a restaurant but you know which part I’m the most interested in. The sugar-dusted donuts to be precise, actually. Donuts you scoff, I can get those a dozen from KrispyKreme for $10 but these were great donuts. They’re now dancing around in my mind’s eye like that Colgate ad, breeding my high expectations for the next time I’m in the states.
Tao is also in the giant Venetian/Palazzo complex but this one is on the Venetian side, in the “Grand Canal Shoppes”. Tao also has a New York store, where we made the mistake of going with the set lunch menu which wasn’t quite as impressive as individually picking the best from the menu, but that’s a story for another time. The food is an Asian fusion, recognisable Chinese, Japanese and Thai elements in the wide selection of amazing tastes.
Being a nightclub while being considered one of the best restaurants in Vegas, Tao is a bit of a celebrity hangout, apparently frequented by the likes of Britney and Madonna (and Kim Kardashian had her birthday party there). That stuff aside, the food is reason enough to go! Oh, and there’s a 16-foot-tall hand-carved buddha statue “floating” above an infinity pool complete with Japanese koi carp.
Spicy thai dumpling soup $12.00
Had a tom-yum-soup-like base, a mixture of tomato, coriander and mushroom which resulted in a very refreshing sourness (sour in a good way) and the dumplings had a chewy texture on the outside with a lovely melt-in-your-mouth filling. In the background is the Miso soup with tofu and manila clams $11.00 which also had shredded radish in it, a nice variation on the typical miso soup you can get at every Japanese restaurant.
Trio of salmon, tuna and yellowtail sashimi with wasabi salsa $28.00
The sashimi was topped with cucumber, tomato and green peppers while semi-immersed in a spicy and sour wasabi sauce. Obviously, there was more than just wasabi in the sauce, there was definitely citrus involved. Salmon has always been my favourite out of the three, I just like the texture of the fish the most. However, in this case, I quite enjoyed all three. Good stuff.
Bamboo steamed vegetable dumplings with crunchy cucumbers $12.00
We took a bit of a risk ordering this one. Good vegetable dumplings are great and are quite possibly even better than pork dumplings and prawn dumplings and whatever other variety of dumplings you can imagine. Bad dumplings are, well, just terrible. Fortunately, Tao didn’t disappoint and these were impressive. The spinach skin (how unique) was smooth and chewy, definitely not too thick which is important in a dumpling. The soft moist innards, there was definitely carrot in there, was a perfect complement to the skin and the light, tangy dipping sauce. On the side was spiced preserved cucumber, classic. I’ve been raving about dumplings for a while now. Just try them!
Thai crab cakes with mango chilli sauce $18.00
Ah, crab cakes. When I go to a restaurant, I have to try the crab cakes. They rank amongst souffle in my favourite foods. Interesting choice of sauce, not the standard sweet and sour sauce. They were slightly spicy with diced spiced fruit on top. To be honest, these were good but nothing too special, but still, crab cakes are crab cakes and I enjoyed them nevertheless. Points for creativity.
Miso glazed chilean sea bass with wok vegetables $38.00
This is their best-selling dish according to our server who had run through the menu with us and recommended this dish. Fresh chilean sea bass never disappoints. The fish was so tender it melted in our mouth and it was served on a bed of Chinese vegetables and red bell peppers, ringed with firm tofu. Guess it’s so popular for a reason!
Chinese sausages fried rice with fried egg $18.00
For some reason, we had ordered a rice dish. As if we didn’t have enough food already! We figured that since they made everything else well, even the fried rice was promising. It wasn’t bad, the fried egg was runny and gave the rice a moist richness. This was fried rice like no other.
Yuzu sugar dusted donuts $9.00
These were absolutely my favourite from Tao. I suspect the fact that they were fresh from the kitchen and steaming hot was a part of it, but the chef makes these 5 at a time – they’re not mass-produced every morning at 6am and then left in a display case all day until someone buys them. They’re intricate and you’re given the option of three different dipping sauces: vanilla cream, syrup and warm melted milk chocolate. Love them. Got to get myself more of these. Excuse to revisit Vegas? I think so!
Mochi tasting $12.00
I haven’t had enough mochi to differentiate between good and bad mochi, but i’m going to assume that this is what good mochi tastes like. The ice cream centre was great after the warm donuts. A mochi/pocky fan would like this.
Chocolate spring rolls $10.00
We were regretting the choice to only order two desserts so we added the spring rolls to the list. This was one of those nights where I had convinced myself that since I’d already stuffed myself, some more dessert wasn’t going to make a huge difference. Dark chocolate oozes from the crunchy folds and mixes with the orange-lemon sauce, and the entire spring roll is then sprinkled with icing sugar.
They look even better up close!
As if all that wasn’t enough – the cheque came with chocolate fortune cookies with…rather suggestive fortunes.
Service was friendly and professional. I’d never seen a team of servers handle a dropped glass of red wine so efficiently.
Ambience: 8.5 (can be quite loud, good for groups – saw a couple of bachelor/bachelorette party groups do some pretty “interesting” stuff at the table there haha)
Tao, Las Vegas
3377 Las Vegas Blvd South,
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 388 8338