Tao – Karachi’s new Pan Asian restaurant reviewed

New pan asian restaurant in karachi - Tao
Tao has an interesting Pan Asian menu

Tao is one of the latest additions to Karachi’s restaurant scene and has been creating a buzz ever since it opened. Tao looks the part of a contemporary Asian restaurant, all grey stone and dark wood with zen elements. Nonetheless, it aims for a broader appeal – this is more casual dining rather than a cool, modern upscale eatery. It has a slew of crowd-pleasing dishes and more than half an eye on sub-continental tastes.

tao pan asian restaurant karachi
Tao has a contemporary feel
tao pan asian restaurant karachi
The ambience is lovely

Tao has opened on that odd little strip opposite Boat Basin which is becoming quite an oasis of family-style restaurants. Del Frio and TGI Fridays have opened in the same lane. Tao currently has a no reservations policy after 8 pm. You can book before 8pm but after that it’s strictly first-come first-served. On busy nights this invariably means a long wait. I’m not a fan of their no-reservations policy. It’s annoying to have to wait half an hour or more for a table every time you go and the crowd of hungry, irritated people waiting at the entrance doesn’t set a great tone for a pleasant dining experience. Luckily the food is worth the wait.

sushi bar tao pan asian restaurant karachi
The sushi bar at Tao

Tao’s Pan Asian menu ranges from sushi to Thai food and includes Chinese and Mongolian dishes as well. Their sushi has had mixed reviews – some people rave about it and others prefer Sakura or over Oishi Sushi. Once I’ve had a chance to try it, I’ll update this review. We chose to try the Beef Negimaki rolls, Dynamite Prawns and soup for starters.

tao's ginger mint lemonade
Tao’s ginger mint lemonade is refreshing
tao's hot and sour soup
Tao’s hot and sour soup is a winner

I had the Hot and Sour soup, which was not the usual dark gloopy soup you get elsewhere. Clear, tangy and complex, this soup was a winner.

beef negimaki tao restaurant karachi
The superlative Beef Negimaki at Tao
off menu fusion soup tao
Off menu fusion soup

My companions chose an off-menu fusion soup, Tom Yum Goong with a dash of coconut milk. Personally I didn’t like the addition of coconut milk although my friends loved it. The Beef Negimaki rolls were stupendous – definitely one of Tao’s must-try dishes.

Tao's dynamite prawns
Tao’s famous Dynamite Prawns

Tao’s famous Dynamite Prawns are an Asian version of the prawn cocktail, from the same family as Noodle House’s Wasabi Prawns. Deep Fried Prawns are coated in a delicious, spiced mayonnaise and served on a bed of thinly sliced Asian cabbage. The mayonnaise has a chilli base rather than a wasabi base and this is justly one of Tao’s most popular dishes.

Tao's crispy beef
Tao’s Crispy Beef was a universal favourite

We ordered Kindo Chicken, Sambal Chicken, Crispy Beef and Fish in Banana Leaf for our main course. The Crispy Beef was a universal favourite but we were split on the chicken. I preferred Kindo chicken while my companions raved about the velvety texture and subtle sauce of the Sambal Chicken. Both are worth trying.

kindo chicken Tao
I loved the Kindo chicken at Tao

The Chargrilled fish wrapped in Banana Leaf was, however, a disappointment. While the creamy sauce was interesting, the fish was overcooked and dry. This may have something to do with the obvious problems the staff had getting all the main course dishes to us simultaneously.

chargrilled fish in banana leaf Tao
Overcooked – the Chargrilled Fish in Banana Leaf at Tao

Tao is very new and obviously has a few teething problems, which should fade as the staff become more experienced. With so many people wanting to try out a new restaurant, the staff sometimes struggles to keep pace with the sheer press of people. We went on a Friday night, around 9:45 pm. The wait was fairly lengthy and although the starters arrived promptly, the main course arrived piecemeal. We had to send two dishes back because they were cold and they were out of large plates for the main course.  The lack of desserts (apparently the dessert menu is still being finalised) was also a disappointment. Despite this, the staff was friendly and accommodating and in general the food was very good.

sambal chicken tao
The Sambal Chicken is velvety in texture and has a nuanced sauce

This is definitely a place I’d go to again – for the beef negamaki if nothing else. I’m looking forward to trying more of the menu – although I will avoid Friday nights in the future.

tao new restaurant menu
tao interior
Copyright 2015 Karachista. All rights reserved
Salima Feerasta
Salima Feerastahttps://karachista.com
Salima Feerasta is chief editor of Karachista.com and one of Pakistan's top fashion and lifestyle journalists.

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  1. Dear Salima. Just a note to say hello as the new Australian General Manager at the Avari Towers Hotel. Cheers and very best wishes. Erik


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