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The Best Lines from Besha Rodell’s Tao Takedown in Hollywood

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It was even worse than she expected

Tao LA
Wonho Frank Lee

This week, Besha Rodell uncharacteristically reviews Hollywood hotspot Tao, the massive new pan-Asian eatery that is a part of the Dream Hollywood hotel complex. The glitzy eatery that is a consistent feature on StarWatch apparently has food that is “worse than we imagined,” backing up the Weekly critic’s generalization that the “very wealthy in this country have some of the worst taste when it comes to food.”

The rather vicious smackdown is worth a read, but the best lines are presented here:

On the clientele:

During the week a steady stream of tourists fills the multilevel dining room; on weekends the valet line is a parade of brightly colored luxury cars disgorging brightly colored luxury people. Paparazzi swarm. Kardashians pout. Etc.

On the “lazy stereotype” decor:

Dragons! Red lanterns! A giant statue of a multi-armed Guanyin bodhisattva that has birds and a glowing red heart and other random shit projected onto it!

On the food being worst than expected:

What I didn't expect were dumpling skins so thick and glutinous that eating them was a little like biting into semi-coagulated library paste. I didn't expect a mush of pad thai without a hint of tamarind or fish sauce or sweetness, bland and pale and gummy.

On the drinks:

The drinks are too sweet, by a gajillion sugarwatts, including safer bets such as the margarita and the Manhattan variation, here called a 58th Street. There's almost nothing worth drinking on the wine list, unless it's a $450 Krug kinda night.

On B. Rod’s troubled past with sake, as explained by her Tsubaki review:

The least offensive, least expensive way to alcoholically numb yourself is via the sake list, but if you're like me and sake makes you a little punchy, this might not be the place to test the bounds of your sake-influenced patience. Especially when the bill arrives.

On the orange chicken:

The food isn't that much worse than what's available at any number of popular chain restaurants, from the higher end through fast food (though I would much rather eat the orange chicken at P.F. Chang's or Panda Express than the orange chicken at Tao).

On the large-scale cultural appropriation:

We in the food world live in our food-world bubble; we tie ourselves in knots talking about the peril of cultural appropriation in Portland food trucks while the highest-grossing restaurant in America blithely offers bottle service under a giant, reclining Buddha statue as paintings of demure geishas cast their eyes alluringly downward behind the bar.

Yikes. Tao receives zero stars.


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