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Up the split stairs from InterContinental Kuala Lumpur’s lobby and to the right is where you’ll find Tao Chinese Cuisine.

Nestled behind a moody walkway and giving diners lots of privacy, this Chinese restaurant has an air of modernity about it.

Perhaps it’s the pattern of stars above diners’ heads in the main dining room, or the use of decorated glass panes as walls.

The restaurant can seat up to 300 pax, and has six private dining rooms named after the different Chinese dynasties

What confirms it though is the food, which the restaurant describes as a “refreshing blend of traditional recipes reinvented”.

We experienced this first-hand with their Chinese New Year 2024 collection called The Enchanting Legend.

A star dish

This year, Tao offers six sets that range from 8-course to 6-course menus, with one of them being vegetarian.

The vegetarian set aside, a staple dish—and a Tao signature—across the sets is the Roasted London Duck.

This name supposedly comes from roasted ducks’ popularity in London’s Chinatown, as well as hotels like Four Seasons UK.

The ducks themselves are actually flown in from Ireland’s famous Silver Hill Farm.

Touted as the wagyu of ducks, these ducks are raised cage-free on a diet of grains and natural spring water. 

Once at Tao, they’re put through a three-day drying process which crisps up the skin beautifully when roasting.

The resulting meat is tender, juicy, without a hint of gaminess, and it has a fat amount that’s just right, blanketed by a super crispy skin. Chef Tommy Choong, who helms Tao, told us that with their method, the duck skin is able to still stay crispy for half an hour when left out.

It’s clear to see why this dish deserves its spot as a Tao signature, and one that we couldn’t get enough of.

Festive with a flair for fusion

But what about that “refreshing blend of traditional recipes reinvented” that Tao assures diners get to enjoy?

For our set, which was the Majestic Set (9-course menu), we got to see Chef Tommy’s expertise in Cantonese cuisine, coupled with his flair for fusion in several dishes.

Namely, the Braised Seafood Treasure Broth with Black Truffle Paste, Braised Mushroom, Abalone, Fortune Money Bag & Seasonal Vegetables with Abalone Sauce, and the Chilled Snow Bird’s Nest, Aloe Vera, Roselle & Hawthorne Syrup.

The truffle in the seafood broth was very indulgent, strong and slightly overpowering the seafood flavours, which could be polarising. We personally enjoyed it a lot. 

You would expect the abalone to be the standout ingredient in the Braised Mushroom, Abalone, Fortune Money Bag & Seasonal Vegetables with Abalone Sauce dish, but what lingers in our memories is actually the Fortune Money Bag.

Chef Tommy incorporates tobiko (fish eggs) and the filling is reminiscent of otak-otak, quite different from the expected filling of shrimp and pork (or chicken, for pork-free versions).

The Chilled Snow Bird’s Nest could be a bit of an acquired taste for those used to the plainer flavours of regular bird’s nest desserts, as the roselle and hawthorne syrup were quite tart and sweet.

In other set menus, dishes touched by fusion include the “Lei Cha” Fried Rice with Mix Vegetables, and the Stir-Fried Mixed Fungus with Black Truffle Paste Stuffed in Fortune Money Back, for some examples.

The classics

More traditional dishes in our Majestic Set were the:

  • Grilled Boneless Chicken Roll with Spicy Sesame Sauce (comes with the Roasted London Duck)
  • “Hong Kong” style Steamed Red Snapper
  • Wok-Fried Tiger Prawns with Butter Oat
  • Steamed Mini Lotus Leaf Rice with Yam
  • Steamed Nyonya “Ninko” with Shredded Coconut

The “Hong Kong” style Steamed Red Snapper was the most memorable for me, it wasn’t fishy, and the light sauce complemented the fish’s naturally mild sweetness. 

The flesh itself was perfectly soft and flakey, and we could see ourselves being satisfied with just this and a bowl of white rice.

Not forgetting the yee sang, a hallmark of CNY celebrations, our table enjoyed Tao’s Yee Sang with Salmon & Crystal Pear. It was sweet, savoury, and tart all at once. 

The freshness of ingredients is what I really think sets a good yee sang apart from a mediocre one, and Tao’s picks were as fresh as could be, down to the Crystal Pear flown in from Korea.

Tao has five different yee sang options, and each set comes with its own yee sang. They are also available for ala carte with add-ons.

Yee SangHalf SetFull Set
Yee Sang with Abalone, Snow Crab Stick & Baby OctopusRM208+RM368+
Yee Sang with Soft Shell Crab & Salmon SkinRM148+RM258+
Yee Sang with Salmon & Crystal PearRM138+RM238+
Yee Sang with Dragon, Star Jelly & Chia SeedRM118+RM208+
Yee Sang with Shredded Roasted London DuckRM138+RM238+

Tao’s take on Chinese cuisine might not be for those who prefer their classics untouched, but it’s a breath of fresh air that we think those more adventurous would appreciate.

Available from now until February 24, 2024 for dine in at Tao, here are the six sets:

  • Majestic Set (9-course) – RM2,388+ per table of 10 persons
  • Ethereal Set (9-course) – RM2,888+ per table of 10 persons
  • Legendary Set (9-course) – RM3,688+ per table of 10 persons
  • Renewal Set (9-course, vegetarian) – RM1,888+ per table of 10 persons
  • Mystic Set (8-course) – RM988+ per table of four persons
  • Radiance Set (9-course) – RM1,299+ per table of six persons
  • Learn more about Tao Chinese Cuisine’s offerings here.
  • Read more of our reviews here.

All images credit: Vulcan Post

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)