Lahoris never get bored of Chinese food which is why so many Chinese restaurants have managed to become so successful in the city. The most talked about upcoming addition to this list of Chinese restaurants is Tao-Pan Asian Cuisine. The restaurant, which is extremely popular in Karachi, is all set to open next week. Prior to the actual launch, a series of soft launches has been taking place and we got the chance to get a glimpse of what the restaurant has in store for us. The best part, which also sets this restaurant apart from any other Chinese restaurant is that it doesn’t only focus on Chinese cuisine. It is truly a Pan Asian restaurant with dishes ranging from Malay, Chinese, Thai and Japanese cuisines.
The restaurant was still under the final stages of its interior setup but we saw that the ambience focuses a lot on the colours red and grey a perfect combination keeping in mind the type of food the restaurant has to offer. The Sushi bar was something that caught our attention with its lighting and seating arrangement.
We skipped the soup (which they have a variety of) and jumped straight to our favourite starter; dynamite prawns. The prawns came perfectly fried and smothered in a tangy and sweet sauce. The batter also had a hint of spices to it making the prawns even more full of flavor. The best part was that they didn’t feel too heavy despite being deep fried. Overall, the prawns were a 7.5 out of 10.
The main course:
The restaurant has a wide variety of main courses you can choose from ranging from poultry to seafood. There are multiple gravies and dry dishes to choose from and what caught our attention was the fact that there was a separate section listing vegetarian dishes- something that is perhaps a new concept in Lahore. While speaking to The Nation, one of the owners of the restaurant explained that he had been getting positive feedback on this vegetarian section and that the restaurant will continue adding more vegetarian dishes to its menu.
This was a very interesting sweet and sour chicken in a thick, sticky gravy topped with a generous amount of sesame seeds. The chicken was cooked to perfection; it wasn’t hard and chewy yet at the same time it didn’t feel raw. The pieces of chicken were perfect- not too small yet not too large either. The sauce was different from your typical sweet and sour sauce yet it had the ability to put anyone’s sweet and sour cravings to rest. The little bits of carrots and onions were crisp and complimented the succulent pieces of chicken brilliantly. There was also a slight kick of spices to the dish which is something you won’t find in any other gravy of this nature. Overall, this dish was 8.5 out of 10.
The Mongolian beef came in a thick, dark gravy and was bursting with flavor. We found it a bit spicy but the steamed rice complemented the spice level. If you don’t particularly enjoy spicy food, it would be best for you to ask for the spice level in the gravy to be kept low. The beef came in perfect, small pieces. However, some pieces were perfectly tender and melted in our mouths while others were a bit chewy. Overall, this dish was an 8 out of 10.
Chicken in garlic sauce:
After we told the restaurant owner our comments about the spice level, he was sweet enough to get us to try this chicken in garlic sauce as this is one of the less spicy dishes. The chicken strips came in a very light, salty garlic sauce. This, coupled with egg fried rice, is a perfect option for those who like to keep the spice level low and enjoy a garlicky flavor in their food. Overall, this dish is a 7.5 out of 10.
By this time, we were stuffed and couldn’t dream of eating more until the owner of the restaurant insisted us to try the sushi, which we couldn’t stop ‘trying’ despite being stuffed. We tried a California roll and it was definitely something we will visit this restaurant again for. 8/10 for the sushi.
Tao is definitely a place that Lahoris will absolutely love. It opens next week and by the looks of it, we think the restaurant will have a long waiting list.