TAO Seafood Asia's Chinese New Year Menu Lets You Feast with a Thai-Teochew Twist

6 minutes reading time (1224 words)

About TAO Seafood Asia

 

Think of ancient Chinese folklore, and what inadvertently draws to mind is the image of Nian. The legendary beast lived beneath the sea and preyed on unsuspecting children around the Lunar New Year. Does that strike fear in your heart? Probably not, since we now associate CNY with feasting on our beloved ba kwa and kueh bangkit rather than these elusive predatory monsters.

Enter Tao Tie, a greedy beast with an insatiable appetite that eats everything in sight. Helmed by father-son duo Chef Lee Tong Kuon and Adrian Lee, TAO Seafood Asia draws inspiration from this lesser known character of Chinese mythology, hoping to cater to foodies as ravenous as Tao Tie itself with their quality Thai-Teochew cuisine.

With CNY round the corner, we take a look at some of the items that will be included in TAO’s Chinese New Year Menu (S$388++ for 4pax, S$1888++ for 10pax). These CNY creations will be available from 3 February to 5 March 2015.

 

1. Lemongrass with Rock Sugar ($5++)

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_TAO-Seafood-1.JPGI was first hit by the cloying sweetness of the rock sugar, but then the lemongrass kicked in, leaving a distinct lemon-citrusy aftertaste that lingered on the tongue. This was reminiscent of traditional Thai Lemongrass Tea, but the addition of rock sugar took a few sips for me to get used to.

 

2. Crispy Fish Skin with Salted Egg Sauce ($10++)

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_TAO-Seafood-4.JPGDeep-fried fish skin is not a revolutionary invention, but I was genuinely surprised to find how perfectly done TAO’s rendition of it was.

Thin as a crisp and relatively free from excess oil, the pieces of fish skin were coated with a light dusting of salted egg yolk. The small amount of salted egg yolk gave the fried fish skin a muted savoury flavour, resulting in a delectable appetizer that set the tone for the rest of the meal. 

 

3. TAO Supreme Prosperity Yu Sheng ($128++ for 8-10 guests)

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_TAO-Seafood-3_20150126-085512_1.JPGWhat’s a CNY reunion without lo hei? This is far from your run-of-the-mill Yu Sheng. Apart from shredded vegetables, pickles and abalone freshly imported from Australia, the beautifully arranged platter also featured some unusual characters like fresh strawberries, mango and even blueberries!

Surprisingly, these additions are complementary to the dish - owing to their freshness, the fruits were mellow rather than acidic and made the dish extremely refreshing. A sprinkling of crackers and MORE crispy fish skin also elevated the dish texturally. There was just the right amount of dressing, which was not too overpowering.

The attentive waitress at our table expertly recited the “auspicious sayings” with flair as she drizzled the various condiments over the platter - so for the jiak kantang types, you can safely follow her lead.

A 1-day advance reservation for dine-in and takeaway is required.

 

4. House of Golden Riches Yaowarat Pen Cai ($318++ for 6 guests; $488++ for 10 guests)

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_TAO-Seafood-5.JPGPen Cai, loosely translated as Big Bowl Feast, finds its roots in rural China. While Pen Cai is traditionally hallmarked by its communal style of consumption, this was no humble village dish. Generous portions of dried scallops, sea cucumber, roast pork and Chinese mushrooms, etc. made for an extremely full-bodied broth that was not overly salty despite its robust flavour.

Chef Lee also thoughtfully paired radish with mustard greens instead of cabbage, so as to minimise the “clashing tastes” in the dish. However one gripe I had was with the mushrooms - it ended up being tough, rubbery, and drained of flavour.

A 12day advance reservation for dine-in and takeaway is required.

 

5. Abundance of Wealth Golden Soon Hock with Mango Slices ($9.80++ per kg, for 3-4 guests)

  

b2ap3_thumbnail_TAO-Seafood-6.JPGFor fried fish, this was startlingly not greasy at all. The fish was succulent but the process of frying had somehow sapped away some of the moisture. Since the fish itself was not flavoured, much of the taste relied on the sauce which it was served on, which was honey sweet and slightly fruity due to the addition of mango slices.

This is an interesting alternative to the usual family fare of steamed fish in soy sauce and ginger.

A 2-day advance reservation for dine-in and takeaway is required.

 

6. Lap of Luxury Sauteed Prawns with Macadamia Nuts ($32++, for 3-4 guests)

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_TAO-Seafood-7.JPGI was initially perturbed by this strange combination. Adrian told us that this dish was designed to be ‘清而不淡’ (light yet flavourful). It definitely lived up to expectations.

The prawns were exceedingly fresh and boasted a mild natural sweetness that required little assistance from any type of sauce. The macadamia nuts were buttery and rich, and while it did not detract from the simple flavours of the prawn, it did not complement it either. Despite being a plain dish, it made for a welcome intermission amidst the slew of heavier courses.

A 1-day advance reservation for dine-in and takeaway is required.

 

7. Continuous Successes TAO Thai Curry Crab ($6++/100g)

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_TAO-Seafood-9.JPGThis was hands down the hot favourite of the evening! The moment the platter of crabs landed on the table, I picked up a strong aromatic fragrance from its deliciously earthy sauce. As far as curries go, this was more sweet than spicy: think rendang sauce and mild otah rather than your fiery green curry.

For those who can’t take spiciness, this is the perfect alternative to your traditional Black Pepper or Chili Crab. The rich, thick sauce goes perfectly with the tender flesh of the Sri Lankan crabs, which slid off the shell with little effort.

Those who still crave some kick to their crab can go for TAO’s in-house 10-ingredient Thai-style green chili sauce. Be warned - a little goes a long way, but just a small taste of it will leave you craving for more.

A 1-day advance reservation for dine-in and takeaway is required.

 

8. Glutinous Rice Cakes

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_TAO-Seafood-10.JPGNian gao is far from my favourite CNY treat but TAO’s version of it was neither sickly sweet nor did it stick to my teeth like many lesser nian gaos do. It was soft and chewy with a robust flavour of molasses, to which the layer of grated coconut added a satisfying crunch. The small, bite-sized pieces also made sure the dessert wasn’t too gelat - instead it marked a palatable end to a heavy meal.

 

Verdict

 

On the whole, TAO Seafood Asia hit the spot for me. While it falters in certain aspects, I left feeling satisfied and I felt that the fine quality of ingredients used more than make up for the damage your wallet will receive from its hefty pricetag.

The genuine and modest disposition of Chef Lee sets the stage for a pristine yet homely ambience, and I believe his ethos is reflected in his food - hearty and familiar, but dressed up with sufficient pomp and extravagance to mark a special occasion like CNY.

 

Getting There

 

TAO Seafood Asia lies in the heart of CBD in Asia Square Tower 2, beside Shenton House. It is within walking distance from the Downtown MRT Station.

Address:12 Marina View, Asia Square Tower 2 #02-10, Singapore 018961
For reservations and enquiries: 6844 9969
Opening hours: 1130 - 1430 / 1800 to 2200 (last order by 2130) daily
Website:www.taoseafoodasia.com


This post was brought to you by TAO Seafood Asia.

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