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Tao Cafe Review

Tao Cafe provided us generally okay Vietnamese dishes, most with coconut milk or noodles. Happily, the event for which we'd all gathered was exciting.


We tried a number of dishes, including: 

  • A salad of shredded papaya and carrots and topped with candied beef ("Bo Kho"). Decent. Although the papaya slivers were a bit dried-out, the beef strips were spicy and tasty. Admittedly, they were a little chewy/tough.
  • Crispy rolls (both vegetable and shrimp) ("cha gio chay" and "cha gio tom"). I only tried the shrimp; they were very good. The exterior worked especially well. Served newly fried, it provided a thin, oil-less contrast wrapped that contrasted well with the fresh shrimp within.
  • Diced chicken with shredded carrots and pine nuts and served in lettuce cups ("ga mu-shu"). As one would guess from the name, it felt like a Chinese dish, and not a particularly interesting renditions of one.
  • Bass in coconut milk ("ca ca ri"). Decent. Although the fish was cooked well, the creamy sauce appealed to people more. I didn't notice the lemongrass that was supposed to be present. The best part of this dish was the sweet fried plantains, more on the banana side than the potato side.
  • Fish in a claypot ("ca kho to"). Good. The fish in this dish, which one person claimed was butterfish, was terrific, tender and moist with a caramelized coating. The teriyaki-inspired sauce at the bottom of the pot was too strong for my tastes.
  • Noodles, zucchini, and lightly fried tofu in a clay pot (dau hu mien). A non-too-exciting dish in another bath of coconut milk.
  • Noodles and beef (bo bun). There's nothing about this dish worth commenting on.
  • Rice. We had brown rice and white rice. Both were fairly sticky and cooked rather well. The brown's coconut flavoring and the white's topping of mild dried shrimp made them a bit more interesting than plain rice.


Drinks were either interesting or good. On the good side were the Le Soleil cocktail, a drink of soju with mango and tamarind, and a kir royal, a champagne-like mixture of sparkling wine and black currants. On the interesting side was a salty lemonade drink flavored with (dried?) plums. Most people really didn't like it -one even called it medicinal-, though it appealed to a small minority. Tao Cafe's version of mojito remains unclassified according to this scheme, as I didn't get a chance to try it.


Service was mixed. Good: Drinks were refilled promptly. Okay: Dishes were brought out at regular though widely spaced intervals. Bad: They forgot about some dishes we ordered and needed to be reminded.


Original Announcement

This week we'll return to the eastern hemisphere and head to Tao Cafe in the Mission for some Vietnamese food. I couldn't get reservations for 8:00pm, so we'll be eating ever so slightly later than usual.



Please tell me if you are coming.


Comments from Other Attendees


I was pretty disappointed. The food really wasn't anything special. It might even be one of the poorest places we've visited. I'd give them a 2-

- S


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