Tao Asian Bistro at the Venetian - Las Vegas
This place is an overblown, in-your-face production. It's precisely what I would expect an American interior designer to boilerplate when given the assignment of decorating an Asian-themed restaurant and nightclub.
There are colorful, oversized National Geographic photos of Asian faces plastered all over the restaurant. Toothless old men grinning. Bald monks in orange sashes staring.
Over the sushi bar, a lifesized poster of Akebono, the sumo grand champion. He has nipples the size of saucers.
A two-story bronzed Buddha is the centerpoint of the room, "floating" over a bubbling pond.
A Buddha in a Vegas restaurant?
Sacrilegious? Maybe. Ironic? Absolutely.
There's also a glass display wall of opium pipes carved ornately from animal tusks.
Club music thumps and thumps in a continuous loop, usurping any and all conscious thought.
The crowd is predominately non-Asian. Young, and gleaming with designer jeans and shoes.
The wait staff wears pseudo-Chinese garb made of silk. The girls look like concubines and the guys look like kung-fu fighters.
Remember the scene from "Garden State" where Zach Braff's character waits at a "Vietnamese" restaurant? I think they might have filmed it here (or the New York sister restaurant). Whatever. The same vibe. The same crowd.
The food caters to this audience. The selections on the menu is vast and ambitious, covering not just Asia, but The Orient as the West would see it, in a way that isn't reverential. There's everything from pad thai, to sushi, to udon, to steak and potatoes. As with anything that tries to be so many things at once, it does no single thing well. Not surprised are you?
The tempura appetizer was heavy and thick with gummy batter. These things go down like a pile of bricks and finishes with a nasty greasy oil slick that tastes rather rank.
The egg rolls were better, but not much. The filling was mushy with veggies turned to a pulpy goo.
The chicken satay sticks were bland and dry. It's what you'd expect when you skewer a chicken breast and bake it in an oven with plain peanut butter.
Miso marinated sea bass looked pretty but the glaze was so salty I had to scrape it off to make the delicate flesh of the fish edible. The "wokked" vegetables that went with it? The cheapest produce available. There was on choy, some bean sprouts and carrot.
The best dish was the New York Steak, which (surprise) had no glaring Asian influences (except for the shitake mushrooms). Tender, perfectly grilled and sweet. Succulent.
The prices? Well, can't you already guess?
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109