Asian, Restaurant Reviews
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Zen and the Art of Lounging @ Tao Terraces (M.G. Road, Bangalore)

After reading mixed reviews about the Tao Terraces, it was time for me to check it out myself. I have always visited their gorgeous terrace lounge bar for a couple of drinks and to enjoy the best house music in Bangalore. Even through the restaurant on the 1st level looks like a setting out of an opulent Thai mansion, I’ve always headed straight up for the views and the wonderful Bangalore weather. This time I was determined to give their Pan-Asian restaurant a try as well, especially since I realized that they served Japanese, as well as Burmese cuisine.  
Situated on the 5th floor of the 1MG mall, it’s not hard to find. The hostess will guide you to the big red door that opens into the lavish and distinctly Asian setting. We headed up to the lounge first for a couple of drinks before our dinner reservation downstairs. One thing the Tao Terraces can boast of is having space! The terrace is made up of Thai style open cabanas, water bodies and little lamps. Overlooking MG road and Ulsoor it makes for a pretty picture. My only grouse is that they serve only drinks and a limited selection of starters and dim sums at the lounge – for the full menu you need to head back to the restaurant. (They also have something called the meal in bowl option – but I’ll save that for a quick lunch day). 

We ordered ourselves some drinks to start the evening – a Singapore Sling and a Manhattan. The cocktails were nice tasting and pretty much the regular fare, but I could not fault the flavor balance. We ordered the Lemongrass Grilled Chicken and the Crystal Prawn Dumplings to help line our stomachs and get our appetites roaring. I really loved the Lemongrass grilled chicken. When I first looked at it, I was not heavily impressed because it looked more like a main course than a starter. And then I took one bite and the Thai flavors exploded in my mouth – lemongrass, basil, chili, and galangal! The waiter cautioned us about a super green fiery dip that he placed next to the chicken. I ignored the dip for the first few bites but then my curiosity got the better of me. And though it didn’t burn the house down, it was super spicy and somehow elevated the lemongrass chicken to a new level of tongue tickling goodness! The dumplings were beautifully made and it’s always fun to see the pink of the prawn and the green of the spring onions peek through the paper thin dumpling wrapper. Yes, this night was getting off to a good start!

The service is a tad slow, but this was a lounge bar, so I guess they excepted people to adopt the same lazy lounge outlook 😛 We were sitting at the bar today, so it’s but natural that you chat up the bartender. I was keen to try an Asian themed cocktail (as befits the place) and picked the Hanoi and the Flying Kiwi. (Yes, one drink down and the adventurous side of everyone pops up!) The Flying Kiwi was a vodka and cointreau concoction with fresh kiwi puree and apple juice. The Hanoi was something I tried for the first time – Banana Liqueur, fresh sweet lemon, honey, basil and lime. Now this one – I loved. A little on the sweeter side but it made a great accompaniment to the spicy starter. I asked the bartender to ship the second round of drinks to the restaurant and we gingerly made our way out the large wooden doorway and down the wooden steps to find ourselves in some Thai paradise.

You have three seating options in the restaurant. By the lovely channel of water, next to the giant stupa like structures, the more formal seating area next to the Buddha wall inside, or if you choose to have Korean food – they even have an area with Korean grills! We settled down quickly and started to scan the menu. The menu is pretty exhaustive, but what makes it easy is the pricing. They have a standard price for chicken, meat, prawn and seafood and I must say that it looked very reasonable. Actually, I was thrilled that the prices didn’t match the exorbitant décor J. If they only checked the box on taste – I could see myself becoming a regular here!

My eyes were instantly drawn to the Sushi and Sashimi Platter. The prices looked super competitive, so I asked them how many pieces in each platter? When they said 12, I said bring it on! Be informed that this takes about 20 mins to arrive at the table, because it is cut and rolled fresh. We were served an elegant platter with an assortment of sashimi and sushi (Salmon, Tuna, Crab and Squid). So what’s my take on it? The Maki rolls were good and the Sushi was great, but I felt that the Sashimi could have been firmer and sliced more evenly. But given that in most pure play Japanese restaurants they have a specialized chef just to prepare the sashimi – I think this Pan-Asian restaurant still did a very decent job! They also have an option of a single type of sushi, sashimi or maki platter and maybe I’ll come back another day to try it.
My partner in crime wanted Bulgogi. Considering this Korean delicacy is available at a select few restaurants in Bangalore (So-Ra-Sang and Hae-Kum-Gang to name two) and considering Wiki lists it in the Top 50 delicious foods in the world – he HAD to order it! Bulgogi is nothing but grilled beef – but the Korean marinade of soy, sesame, scallions, sugar, pepper and some more secret ingredients makes it a smashing success. The restaurant served the bulgogi with some lettuce and garlic and a side of Korean dipping sauce (as is the norm) and my dinner companion just polished it off!
I couldn’t resist ordering the Honey Chilli Pork Ribs. The reaction to this was unanimous. Though the ribs were finger-licking-good, the ones at LikeThatOnly and Monkey Bar have ruined the competition! Poor Tao ribs… you were good, but we’ve had better!  
I had heard that they make fantastic Khao Suey. And since I did not eat beef and therefore the Bulgogi, (no matter how divine smelling) was off my list, I could still pack in some more food! While I was looking at the menu, the chef suggested that we try his specialty – the Nonya Prawn Curry. Now this I KNOW, no one in Bangalore makes! Nonya cuisine is a combination of Chinese, Malay and Indonesian cuisines and is very popular in Singapore. You would probably be familiar with the Assam Laksa and the Otek-Otek (spiced fish steamed in a banana leaf) – both of them are actually Nonya delicacies. So I ordered the Prawn curry and waited with bated breath – I was not disappointed! The silky coconut curry was made resplendent with the raw turmeric and shrimp paste and the lemon grass balanced out the sweetness of the prawn. The addition of coriander powder and curry leaves should not alarm you – it is a key component of Nonya cuisine! I give this one a thumbs-up. (P.S. It had enough decent sized prawns to keep me very happy!)
Did we want dessert? Hmm…nothing too heavy was the first thought. So though the Kafir Lime Avocado Tiramisu sounded intriguing, we settled for some ice cream. If you know me well enough, of course I choose the most fun flavors! The Wasabi Ice Cream was no mild lily – it knew it was wasabi and hit my nose with the full force of its being! *Gasp Gasp* Tasty, but I pawned it off to the companion to finish – he loved battling it! The Tamarind Ice Cream was the good cop. Smooth, sweet with the earthy taste of tamarind – it rolled easily over my tongue and soothed the wasabi bad cop routine. I will end with this one, thank you very much!
The Tao Terraces left me pleasantly surprised with respect to their Japanese cuisine and very impressed with respect to the rest of their Asian repertoire. The ambience can seem like the biggest draw but after sampling the food, I have to say that it’s not far off! And with a price point that’s as comfortable as the cushions you are seated on – I would give them a lot more credit than they’ve received so far.
P.S. A little birdie told me that they have a special lunch buffet throughout the week (including Sundays) priced at Rs.550/- + taxes. I hope they serve Khao Suey 😉

Tao Terraces
5th Floor, 1 MG Mall,
Opp. Taj Vivanta,
MG Road,
Bangalore.
Ph: +91 998691144
Parking: In the Mall/ Valet
Cost: Rs.1800/- + taxes for a meal for two with alcohol

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