TAO Seafood Asia draws its inspiration from a legendary gourmet-philiac, Chinese mythical creature known as “饕餮” (tāo tiè) in Mandarin, and its Chinese name, “饕聚” (tāo jù), denotes the gathering of gourmets. Perched on the second floor of the Asia Square Tower 2, this mythical restaurant is the brainchild of Mr. Adrian Lee. Together with his father, Chef Lee Tong Kuon, the former executive chef and co-owner of the Thai Village Holdings Limited, TAO Seafood Asia brings the best of Teochew-Thai gourmet influence to their opulent offerings.
I had the privilege to sample TAO’s signature dishes and also their new creations. To start, TAO introduced me two of their most cherished appetisers – the Chilled Jellyfish Salad, a popular cold Chinese appetiser uses naturally-crunchy jellyfish head is tossed with a special mix of vinegar, sesame and chili; and the Crispy Fish Skin with Salted Egg Sauce, made with deep-fried eel skin double-fried with TAO’s special salted egg sauce that holds a slight tinge of spiciness. Both of these appetisers were outstanding in its taste and texture – never before had I eaten jellyfish head with such characteristic crunchiness. A must try!
Chef Lee, then, brought out two of his signature creations. He began with TAO Signature Soup with Premium Fish Maw and Crabmeat. This delicately viscous and fragrant chicken noble brew is coupled with premium New Zealand Fish Maw has to be tasted in 2 stages, Adrian recommended. Firstly, taste the broth-like soup in its original taste and next, add a scoop or two of Chef Lee’s proprietary Teochew-Thai green chili paste to it to tickle your palate. This soup left me with such an inexplicable addiction that I returned for another round within the same week with guests from Malaysia who were also mesmerised by TAO’s offerings.
Next was Chef Lee’s new, TAO signature dish – TAO Stir Fried Fish Maw with Prawns. This scrumptious portion of the small-wok-tossed fish maw is best eaten immediately when served, any delay will compromise the texture and taste, Chef Lee insists. For my health-conscious readers, it is assuring to know that Chef Lee uses very little oil during the meticulous frying process and the collagen rich fish maw contains a natural coat of Omega-3 fish oil.
The Steamed Live Marble Goby (Soon Hock) with Preserved Radish is another nouveau création by Chef Lee. The fresh Soon Hock, Marble Goby fish is a premium freshwater fish, known to have the most delicate of texture, juicy taste, and have high albumin content, is topped with garlic-tossed preserved radish, steamed to perfection. This particular dish can also be cooked with other freshwater fish that Mr. Adrian Lee brings in daily from reputable and sustainable sources.
TAO’s White Pepper Crab is a mandatory order when you eat at TAO. And you’ve heard from my palate’s authority that this is THE BEST white pepper crab in Singapore. This is also Chef Lee’s new creation and he only uses daily-delivered, quality Sri Lankan crabs, pure ground white pepper and other spices to concoct the heady-scented crustacean-dish. I reiterate, you will not please Tāo Tiè if you’ve left the restaurant without eating this one!
The immaculate Pot Roasted Crab with Glass Noodles is an obligatory Thai-Teochew favourite that is prepared in a metal pot over a specially designed set of open fire stoves; its sauce and soup base are repeatedly mixed and tossed with the crab and glass noodles till every last bit of their flavours are locked in. The dish is then served immediately within the metal pot to retain its “wok-hei”.
TAO is one of the very few Chinese restaurants that had me rubbing my belly with a big, cheek-to-cheek smile. The Tāo Tiè in me was obviously very, very pleased. Forget other seafood restaurants that has been mentioned ad nauseum, give TAO a try and you will concur with my opinion of their delectable offerings.
You may choose to jostle with the afternoon office crowd at this restaurant or you may choose to come in the evening or weekends with your family with a little less competition for table and with free parking after 630 pm. During the weekday afternoons, for the convenience of office lunch-goers, TAO has a little counter-outlet called FUN (饭) that offers nearly fast-food-styled premium take-away seafood offerings.
TAO SEAFOOD ASIA is at Asia Square Tower 2 #02-10, Singapore 018961. For reservations, please call +65 68449969.