The Return of the Chef’s Tasting Menu – To help address pandemic fatigue — yours and ours — and although it won’t be the same as dining in, we now offer a Tao Tasting Menu in take-out form every Sunday, starting November, running through the end of the year, with a special New Year’s Eve Peking Duck dinner. The Tao Sunday Supper Series will be a 8-course tasting menu, with optional cocktails and wine pairs, based on the cuisine of various regions in China.
The dinners are priced at $48 for one, $78 for two and $148 for four, and available for pick-up between 4:30 – 6:30 pm every Sunday. These meals MUST be ordered IN ADVANCE, either online or via phone. Tentative future menus for the series are below:
Peking Duck Dinner – New Year’s Eve
$58 per person, pick-up between 4p – 8p
West Wind Tea Eggs
Taiwanese Black Sesame Noodles
Kung Pao Potstickers
Roast Pork Buns
with Pancakes, Cucumbers, Scallions, Hoisin
Hong Shao Eggplant
Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce
Caviar Supplement (Serves 2+) — $28
2 oz Trout Roe with Lotus Chips and Yuzu Crème Fraîche
Foie Gras Supplement (Serves 2+) — $28
4 oz Potted Foie Gras Terrine
Gastronomical Tour of China – We begin our gastronomical tour of different regions of China every Sunday evening, beginning Sunday, February 9th, with special set menus for each region. All regional meals and brunches are $48 per person. For these menus, we are not able to accommodate most dietary restrictions and food allergies. Regional dinners will be served from 4:00-8:00 PM, and brunches will be served from 11:00 AM-2:00 PM. The 2020 schedule is as follows (menu links/dates are from 2019):
As in previous years, we will be offering discounted dinner packages for these meals. Buy a four-pack of regional dinner gift certificates, and you will receive a $4 discount per person purchased for each meal. A four-pack for one person is $176. Buy an eight-pack, and you will receive an $8 discount. An eight-pack for one person is $320. Buy a twelve-pack, and you will receive a $12 discount, each meal only $36. A twelve-pack for one person is $432. Regional dinner packages will be available when we reopen in February.
|Sunday Regional Dinner Series
Hainan/Hakka · 09 FEB 2020 MENU
Hainan is a small island located in the South China Sea. The cuisine of this area is influenced by a mix of Chaozhou (an eastern city in Guangdong province), Southern Fujian, and Hawaii. With its subtropical location, seafood and tropical fruits are a very important part of the local fare. That said, the most popular dish of the region uses neither: Hainan Chinese Chicken and Rice is the region’s famed recipe. A simple yet rich and indulgent dish, it consists of slow braised chicken atop white rice cooked in the rendered chicken juices.
The population of Hainan consists primarily of the Hakka people whose ancestors migrated to the Southlands from Northern China due to civil unrest. As people continued to migrate south over a number of years, this migration eventually developed a cuisine that would become the backbone of Southern China’s heartiest recipes. Hakka food is unique in that it is defined by a group of people rather than a region. The fare tends to be simply seasoned with a variety of dried fruits and fermented ingredients. Mei Cai Kou Rou, a dish consisting of braised pork belly and fermented mustard greens, is a lovely example of the simplicity and creativity of Hakka cuisine.
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Hong Kong/Guangdong · 16 FEB 2020 MENU
Guangdong (formerly Canton), a coastal region of Southeast China bordering Hong Kong and Macau, has three branches of cuisine — Guangzhou, Chazhou and Dongjiang. The province in known for using a wide variety of ingredients that is able to offer food for all tastes. The cuisine of Guangzhou (the capital of the province) is the most widespread food you will find in Guangdong. The dishes change seasonally, offering lighter and brighter flavors in the summer and autumn, and stronger yet mellow flavors in the spring and winter. The cuisine of Guangzhou tends to be lighter and focuses on more nutritious dishes that aid in good health. Chazhou takes influence from their southern neighbors and provide similar flavors to Fujian food. Dishes here often incorporate seafood and a variety of soups; the flavors and textures tend to be thicker, sweeter, and richer. Lastly, Dongjiang cuisine concentrates on using domestic animals and poultry, and the flavors of this style tend to be slightly salty with simple sauces. Cheung Fun Rolls, although very popular around the country, originated in Guangdong. The Cantonese translation of Cheung fun is “pig intestine noodle”. The noodles appearance is similar to intestine, but in reality is a deliciously steamed noodle made of rice and can be filled with pork belly and a variety of other ingredients.
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Taiwan · 23 FEB 2020 MENU
The flavors of Taiwan are heavily influenced by the Japanese who occupied the province from 1895 until 1945; however, the cuisine changed significantly following the civil war in 1949. After Mao Zedong, many people flooded into Taiwan, bringing different cooking methods and traditions which resulted in an amalgam of techniques and flavors all available in one area. Despite the vast array of influences on the region, the Taiwanese consider their most popular dishes as true Taiwanese specialties. One of these is Ba Wan, an oversized steamed dumpling made with sweet potato flour.
Macau · 01 MAR 2020 MENU
Macau is composed of a small peninsula and two islands, and is often associated with its Hong Kong neighbor. Like Hong Kong, for 450 years the region was a Portuguese colony, it was not until 1999 that the Chinese government assumed formal sovereignty. Considering its history the food of this province has heavy European influences, much more than any other area of China. The traditional Portuguese flavors can be tasted in Macanese Bacalau, a salt cod dish composed of potatoes and black olives as well as some Chinese ingredients such as coconut cream and ginger.
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Zhejiang · 08 MAR 2020 MENU
Zhejiang, literally meaning winding river, is the province proximate to Shanghai, and encompasses a rural interior and urban centers along the East China Sea. The capital, Hangzhou, is the site of the picturesque West Lake, the source of one of the region’s famous dishes — West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy. Other notable dishes include Longjing Tea Fried Shrimp, Dongpo Pork, Braised Bamboo Shoots, all of which will be featured on the menu. In addition to its cuisine, Zhejiang is famous for its tea, silk and embroidery.
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Shanghai · 31 MAR 2019 MENU
The dishes of Shanghai are often referred to as the “children of a thousand mothers,” as the province can be easily accessed by the Grand Canal, its close proximity to railroads and highways, and its western influence. It is difficult to define the tastes and textures of the province due to its varied influences from various cuisines. The people of Shanghai refer to their fare as “our gang’s food”, which is highly seasonal and features a large amount of both saltwater and freshwater fish. Grandma Tang’s roast pork buns are my (Cecile) grandmother’s Shanghainese influence of a classic northern dish. A Shanghai specialty is a dish called Lion’s Head, which is a dish composed of oversized meatballs that are surround by cabbage, resembling the mane of a lion.
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Xinjiang · 17 FEB 2019 MENU
Located in the Northwest, Muslim-inspired cuisine holds sway in the province of Xinjiang. The food reflects the tastes and cooking styles of Uyghurs, Hui Muslims and Tibetans, with defining flavors of the dishes being chilies, meats, breads and cumin. The most commonly used protein on the region is lamb. A popular dish of the region is a “Big Plate of Chicken”, which was created by the Sichuan’s who immigrated to this area. Their goal was to make a meal that would satisfy the appetites of the people who worked long days at very physical, demanding jobs.
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Tibet · 24 FEB 2019 MENU
The traditional food of Tibet consists of Yak meat, mutton, milk products, highland barley, and potato. The most common cooking methods in this province are to stew, braise, simmer, steam, fry, and roast. Proteins such as yak and goat are commonly used in Tibet due to its Buddhist belief that it is better to eat larger animals than smaller ones (such as fish and fowl) because fewer lives are sacrificed to feed the same amount of people. The most important crop of Tibet is barley, which is commonly milled into flour called tsampa that is used very often in the cuisine. Dairy products are also very important to the cuisine and culture of the area, especially yak milk products which are known for their health benefits. Another very popular dish of the province are delicious stuffed and steamed dumplings called “momos.”
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Shaanxi/Shanxi · 24 MAR 2019 MENU
Shaanxi cuisine has a number of both modern and ancient influences. Eastern and Northern China, Central Asia, as well as the Central highlands have all melded together to create the flavors, cooking methods and traditions of this province. The culinary heart of Shaanxi is in the capital, Xi’an– the power and wealth of the metropolitan area attracted many chefs from all around the country, providing a number of different influences in the cuisine.
For many years feuding tribes fought over the province of Shanxi, bringing a mixture of food traditions to the province. Pork is the major protein of the area considering the province is inhabited solely by the Han Chinese. Noodles also play a large part in the cuisine of Shanxi; it is said that “all the world’s pastas can be found in Shanxi alone.” The province is also distinguished for the rich flavors and aromas of its aged black rice vinegar which is often put to use in sweet pickled garlic cloves.
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Sichuan · 12 MAY 2019 MENU
Sichuan’s cuisine is known for its distinct, mouth-numbing spice. Three major cites offer variation in the region: Chengdu, Chongqing and Zigong. In Chengdu you find more refined and conservative flavors alongside casual street foods that provide the numbing spice from the Sichuan peppercorn. One of the favorites of the region is Mapo Doufu, tofu that is infused with the Sichuan peppercorn and served with minced pork. Another famous dish of the region is Shui Zhu Yu, literally translated to “water boiled fish” (which fails to mention the layer of chilies and chili oil covering the water!). In Chongqing chilies are used abundantly, creating dishes with complexity and flare. Zigong’s cuisine is heavily influenced by its history of being a salt-production area; beef has traditionally been a bountiful ingredient due to the use of water buffalo to extract salt from deep saline wells.
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Yunnan · 14 APR 2019 MENU
Yunnan, meaning “south of the clouds,” is made up of mountainous lands stretching from Tibet down to jungles that border Vietnam. Due to its location, the province is very diverse in its agricultural products and is inhabited by more ethnic groups than any other area, each having their own specialty dishes. Various tribes traveled through the area for centuries and brought a variety of herbs and spices to the region’s cuisine. Herbs such as cilantro, Vietnamese coriander, perilla leaves, and pandan fronds are commonly found in the dishes of this province, as well as an assortment of mushrooms and chilies. Fresh dishes such as spicy mint salad and wok-sautéed maitake mushrooms showcase the connection between the diverse vegetation and local fare.
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Hunan · 28 APR 2019 MENU
Hunan is referred to as “the land of rice and fishes.” The land is extremely fertile; in fact this province produces the largest quantity of rice than any other province in the country. It is also second in production of pork, beef and lamb. Also known as “Xiang Cuisine,” Hunan fare has the reputation of producing flavors even hotter than the mouth numbing flavors of Sichuan; however, there is a greater variety of produce (including, notably, citrus) due to its more southern location. Traditionally the people here believe that cooking with chilies is beneficial in that it dries out and cools down the body, thus allowing the people who reside here to live more comfortably in the damp climate with its hot summers and cold wet winters. The cuisine is focused largely around elaborate preparation and attractive presentation. The most popular dish of the area is Crispy Orange Beef, which is a beef dish marinated and complemented with the flavors of chilies, ginger and citrus.
Dongbei · 10 MAR 2019 MENU
Commonly known as Manchuria, DongBei literally means “East-North” and refers to the 3 most NE provinces in China — Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang. While Southern China favors delicate flavors and abundant produce and seafood, Dongbei cooking is more hearty and meaty to bulk up against the cold. The food is also influenced by its neighbors – Russia, Mongolia, and Korea. The latter’s influence in the kitchen is immediately apparent at the start of every Dongbei meal. Along with Chinese tea you’ll find an abbreviated spin on Korean banchan placed on every table. One dish contains crunchy, chili-tinged suan chao tu dou si, a sour potato slaw of sorts, and the other is a lightly pickled cabbage that calls to mind a sweeter, less intense version of kimchi. Unlike in other parts of China, wheat, rather than rice, is the staple starch, so noodles, dumplings, and flatbreads play a big role in everyday eating. Corn, ground into flour, makes its way into rustic breads, too.
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Shandong · 17 MAR 2019 MENU
The coastal Shandong province lies at the mouth of the Yellow river in Northeastern China. Three major culinary branches have influenced the region: first, decedents of the Confucius, whose refined flavors can be seen in a dish called Yellow Braised Duck (the less famous cousin of Peking Duck, but just as delicious and easier to prepare); second, the Jiaodong Peninsula, known for seafood dishes; and third, Jinan, whose local flavor is abundant with garlic. In turn, this province has had a substantial influence on all Northern Chinese cooking with its rich and savory local dishes–which we will showcase in our Shandong-style pork ribs. The influence of this province has been so large that the entire region is often referred to as “Shandong School”.
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