Tao’s Restaurant is an Asian fusion restaurant located at Bulleen. A great suburb, but I mainly come to Bulleen when I need to fix Helen’s watch. I got her a vintage Omega many years ago, and it’s been nothing but trouble! An Omega watchmaker works from Bulleen, so you could say I know my way around the area by now. Well anyway back to Tao’s Restaurant, these guys were one of the original pioneers of Asian fusion. They were doing Asian fusion before it was cool. Unfortunately time may have caught up with them and it feels as though they’ve been left behind. Over the years, the quality of their food has been on a slow and steady decline…
Helen and I used to love coming to Tao’s on special occasions because they represented a great value to quality ratio. To this day, I still don’t think their prices are too bad, if only they had kept the same quality as the good old days. We came on a weekday which was $48pp for a set menu. It came with a starter, entree, main and even a glass of wine. Normally the price is $78 and you’d get a soup and dessert too, minus the wine. Our last experience wasn’t the best, but we thought we’d give them another chance.
The starter had always been an opportunity for Tao’s to show off their delicacies. On this occasion we got an oyster shot, an oyster in the shell with scallop trims and some Edamame beans. The oyster shot was nice, it was refreshing and a great palate cleanser. The oyster in the shell wasn’t as enjoyable. For whatever reason, there was a lot of onion in there, and that overpowered the oyster. Instead of tasting the sweetness of the oyster, I was tasting the sweetness of the onion! And the Edamame beans… what the hell happened there!?! Was this a classic case of cost cutting? I found it comical that this was presented as one of the starters!
For the entree I got the sashimi, whilst Helen got the pork belly Shabu Shabu. The sashimi was high quality, clean and fresh. The inclusion of the abalone was a pleasant surprise, I guess this made up for the pitiful Edamame beans in the starter. Helen’s pork belly on the other hand was overcooked and tough, total opposite of what you’d expect pork belly to be. My main was probably the most uninspiring of all the courses. My porterhouse came out on a hot stone, which was on a bed of rocks. Presentation was on point, but that was the only positive. I had enough sauce for two steaks, but even then the steak was extremely bland. It tasted like sauce from a packet which had been poured over an unseasoned steak. To add insult to injury, it was also very chewy, and hard to swallow.
Like a Chinese wedding banquet, they always finish off with a fried rice. This fried rice had always been consistent in the past, so I was eager to finish on a high note! To my disappointment even the fried rice was a let down this time. That full flavour, dry scallop punch was missing, hell even the salt was missing! It was closer to the end of plain rice as opposed to fried rice.
I know I’ve been a bit critical in this review, but it’s only because I know what Tao’s Restaurant was capable of in the past. It’s disappointing to them relegated to our mediocre/will not visit again category. I think there’s other similarly priced Asian fusion restaurants these days that offer better quality food, and for this reason, I am unable to pass on my recommendation.
Approx $80 AUD per person
Address: 201 Bulleen Rd, Bulleen VIC 3105
Phone: +61 3 9852 0777