Tao just opened a second location downtown below the Maritime Hotel in Meatpacking into a behemoth space (22,000 sq. ft.). Honestly unlike any restaurant I’ve ever seen in New York City. Upon arrival, you walk down a long Eastern decorated hallway where you’ll meet the hostess ladies in shiny olive kimono dresses. Then you enter right into the main dining room where BOOM Vegas suddenly slaps you in the face and you forget where you are and what you came here to do.
Immediately you need to grab a drink from the bar, socialize and investigate the scene. There are enormous 16 foot Buddha statues at both ends of the restaurant and the lighting changes colors around them. Well, I enjoyed this distraction. The stadium seating is really what won me over here. It looks crowded but feels open. I felt like I was attending a Broadway Show as we were placed directly on the uphill part of the stairs where we could look over all of the tables on the main dining room floor and even up at the two private dining room spaces above (birthday party alert here). I almost felt like we were on display. The lighting and decor hits the right mark for entertainment, and it was so much fun just to be seated there that I didn’t even read the whole menu before I ordered because at that point it didn’t matter. The music is also great, and they throw in some oldies.
The Asian influenced menu is full of Dim Sum options, noodles, rice, yakitori, barbecue, beef, miso cod, sushi and sashimi. We stuck to sushi but started with the Shishito Peppers which sadly were a bit tasteless and overpowered by oil. It needed some flakes of sea salt. However, the presentation for the sushi makes you feel like you struck gold as they are placed in front of you.The best roll we had was the King Salmon Tataki. I usually prefer tuna rolls over salmon, but this one was stellar. The fish was super fresh, and I loved the flavor. The rolls come 6 to a piece but they are pretty thick and full. I was disappointed by the Glazed Tuna and Wild Mushroom roll. The mushroom overpowered the tuna and it was not the best combo. Stick to all things seafood in rolls maybe. The drinks are also dynamite. Totally into the Mango Chili Martini. If you like the heat in your glass, take it. Definitely make sure you have a ressie and if you are hunting for the opposite sex, it’s definitely encouraged here.