Chef Lee Tong Kuon makes comeback with Thai-Teochew restaurant

SINGAPORE - If you are familiar with Thai Village restaurants, you may recognise the name Lee Tong Kuon.

He was the former executive chef and co-owner of Thai Village before retiring in 2012.

Now, chef Lee has returned.

He is the face of TAO Seafood Asia, located at Asia Square. TAO is managed by chef Lee's son, Adrian.

With a focus on Thai-Teochew cuisine, the food at TAO may make you reminisce about Thai Village.

The TAO twist is that the restaurant uses only sustainable seafood - excellent for those with a conscience over over-fishing.

The food remains traditional, without too much complication to the flavours, ingredients or cooking methods.

A lot of the dishes are probably items you've eaten before, but you should be impressed by the quality of the cooking.

The decor matches the traditional approach.

The predominately red decor veers towards camp, but it doesn't overwhelm.

The service is another winner. There is little rushing, which adds to the leisurely ambience.

Following the servers' lead, I took my energy level down a notch. That may be the best pace to enjoy the food.

Great white pepper

The white pepper crab ($6 per 100g) was delicious. The ground white pepper gave a glorious burn. Chunky Sri Lankan crabs will always be a hit.

Eat, no photos

The stir-fried fish maw with prawns ($44) is a welcome addition. The maw is wok-tossed with very little oil. The result? An earthy, savoury chew which complimented the prawns. Don't waste time taking a picture. It must be eaten immediately. In fact, chef Lee came to our table to say: "Eat now, no photo."

Great Jellyfish

Chilled jellyfish salad ($10), is something that acts like an amuse-bouche in Chinese restaurants. But the version here had me cleaning up the plate. Tao uses the head of the jellyfish for crunch, but the tangy sauce made the difference.

Mixed reaction

I've had mixed reviews of the pot roasted crab with glass noodles ($45). I found the noodles to be slightly lacking in flavour, but that only highlighted the sweetness of the crab. My dining companion dubbed it bland.

Safe but boring

Another new dish is the steamed live marble goby (or soon hock, seasonal price). It's a competent dish, but not particularly exciting.

But it is a fail-proof crowd pleaser.

weeteck@sph.com.sg

What: TAO Seafood Asia

Where: #02-10, Asia Square Tower 2

When: Opens daily: 11.30am to 2.30pm; 6pm to 10pm

Tel: Call +65 6844-9969 for reservations


This article was first published on October 22, 2014.
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