Sunday, October 31, 2010

Holy Hidden Gem!

I stumbled upon the most amazing restaurant I have been to in a long time! Tao a small gem on Adams Avenue in Normal Heights has only been open for 1 year and I am so glad I found it. I tried to eat there last Thursday night and there was a 25 minute wait. Now I was even more intrigued. It was jam packed.
They only take reservations for 6 or more and my friend and I crossed our fingers and went back to Tao last Saturday night. With luck and Halloween being on our side we got a table right away.
Tao feels like the kind of place that will be around for years. Kind of like your favorite mom & pop Italian food restaurant. It has a casual atmosphere and the all the walls are covered in writing by past guests who dined there. Most of the messages on the walls are rants and raves about how amazing the food is.
We were overwhelmed with the menu as there are so many amazing choices.
Our sweet neighbors sitting next to us were regulars and made some recommendations. Turns out they work for the Department of Environmental Health and were not working but enjoying what was about to be my favorite meal I have had in a long time. Observing the meals being served at the tables around us I knew we were in for a treat!
The food at Tao is Vietnamese and Japanese Cuisine. Two of my favorites cuisines combined into one? Is this even possible? The owner & chef is Chinese & Vietnamese and has a Japanese grandmother so this is the real deal when it comes to Asian fusion comfort food. His wife was our waitress and she was such a doll.
Shortly after we sat down and ordered our drinks a complementary salad was served to us. Mixed greens, a sweet fruit vinaigrette, chopped walnuts and tofu. It was delicious but what caught my attention was the tofu. It is HOMEMADE daily and simply melts in your mouth. I don't think I can eat tofu anyplace else. The tofu is what they are known for as many of the dishes include it. In fact they use all 100% soy oil, no MSG and a totally separate cooking compartment for preparing all the vegetarian dishes.
We started with one of the 20 soups on the menu. The Pho Beef Noodle Soup (rice noodle, thin slices of beef, onion, scallions, cilantro, basil, bean sprout, lemon & herbs). The next time I have a cold I will be forgetting chicken noodle soup which is the Jewish penicillin. I am now going to eat Pho the Vietnamese penicillin. The only thing is the temperature could of been a little hotter but the flavors were fantastic and it didn't stop us from eating it.
I ordered the the Eggplant Tofu dish. (Japanese eggplant, breaded tofu with garlic sauce) The spicy level I ordered was a #6 and our waitress stopped me as a #6 is considered really spicy. So I dropped down to a #4 and it was perfect. Also when ordering the rice that comes with most of the entrees you get a choice of steamed, brown or half & half. I went with the half and half and I love that they offer that option. Although next time will order all brown. It was a mix of brown and wild rice. I loved it. This dish was awesome! The eggplant and tofu were a great combination the sauce was spicy and sweet. Amazing!
My friend had the Hainanese Chicken Rice Pot (shredded boneless chicken, shitake mushroom, broccoli, onions, garlic, ginger, scallion) It was incredible. Everything was cooked to perfection and the flavors were amazing. I mean how can anything be bad when served in a clay pot?
To top it off they bring you homemade complimentary ice cream. The flavors of the evening were green tea and pineapple coconut. We got both. They came drizzled with a strawberry sauce, fresh mango & strawberry slices. I mean really? Was this evening all a dream?
As if the evening couldn't get any better our bill was only $42.00. That includes wine and beer.
My friend Jen described Tao as being a Hybrid Vigor restaurant.
(Hybrid Vigor - the increased function of any biological quality in a hybrid offspring. It is the occurrence of a genetically superior offspring from mixing the genes of its parents.) I think that sums it up. Take Vietnamese & Japanese with touch of Chinese and you get a Superior Offspring called Tao. It is SUPERIOR!
3332 Adams Ave. San Diego 92116

1 comment:

  1. Amazing blog post...I can still taste the Tao. Ta-Dao! Love it.