Friday, December 29, 2006

tai pan

Tai Pan in Palo Alto.  from left: peking duck; seafood bisque with puff pastty; spicy tofu with seafoodLast night the guys returned to Tai Pan. It was our second visit to the gorgeous, upscale Chinese restaurant that replaced Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Palo Alto late last year, and I suspect we will add it to our regular rotation.

Tai Pan features innovative, modern dishes prepared in a Hong Kong style. Michael Bauer has written extensively about some of his favorites, and almost everything we have tried has been excellent. The one exception was the frog in clay pot that we had in November: it was tasty enough but it has a bad bone to meat ratio.

Dishes that were new to us that we really enjoyed include: the wonderfully rich seafood jewels bisque crusted with perfectly flakey puff pasty; a seafood madras in a light curry reminiscent of the three squash curry at Tamarine; and, the two taste flounder about which Mr. Bauer raved. There are many more on the extensive menu that we are eager to try like the Venison in brown sauce.

The very helpful and attentive staff at Tai Pan has guided us well, but don’t overlook the classic dishes either. As I hope the photos suggest, each is prepared with the freshest ingredients and has a taste that justifies its price.

Tai Pan has a very nice wine list. We’ve had a half case of an excellent Chenin Blanc thus far, and last night we also enjoyed port with our desserts. Tai Pan offers a steamed mochi-like ball with black sesame paste that is delicious, but our favorite was the mango pudding. With wine and dessert, expect to pay $50 per person.

Tai Pan: 560 Waverley St, Palo Alto, CA (650) 329-9168
Tai Pan in Palo Alto.  from left: crispy noodles with seafood; mango pudding; pea sprouts with garlic