Tao, the restaurant, changed the dining options along Tandjung Benoa a few years back. It served predominately Thai and Vietnamese with a little Chinese, Malay and Japanese added. Now the same formula has come to Legian at the brand new Ramada Camakila Resort. The Tao Beach House is situated at the hotel?s southern end, overlooking Legian Beach.
Furthermore the new Tao Beach House at Legian is under the same management for the set up, Chef Vaewta Chookasem, as was Tao Benoa, so many of the menu items have already been well tried and tested.
The Poo Pia Pak are the way spring rolls should be; wrapped in rice paper, so a thin crisp outer, this one stuffed with shredded vegetables, Thai sweet chilli sauce for the dip of course. The Vietnamese Goi Chuon Bo Spring Rolls are rolled in rice paper and served cold and uncooked, inside is a mix of grilled beef and veggies. Goi Cian Ga are also Vietnamese spring rolls but this time the deep-fried version, again inside a thin crisp shell, stuffed with chicken and vegetables. Then a Chinese Spring Roll of prawn with tartar and chilli mayonnaise.
Martabak can come from Indonesia, Malaysia or the Muslim south of Thailand. At Tao they are served in the Malaysian tradition and unusually vegetarian, rolled inside is egg and shredded vegetables tossed in a tamarind jam with pickles added. From Japan a Maki Roll, this one is called Dragon Maki; Japanese eel, avocado, cucumber and sushi rice rolled inside seaweed, and a Tempura Moriwase; prawns, fish pieces and vegetables deep fried in rice-flour batter.
The Chinese contribution includes a plate of Dim Sum, small tasty dumplings of prawn, squid and chicken, which you dip in soy, and a classic Salt & Pepper Squid, the flesh crisp without being tough. The only thing missing is a composite plate of entrees so you can try a variety of different tastes at the same sitting, even if alone.
Salads can be Thai [green mango with soft shell crab and cashew nuts or beef in chilli lime], Vietnamese [king prawns with asparagus, avocado, tomato & chilli mayonnaise], Balinese [chicken, lemongrass, long beans, chilli, kaffir lime leaves and chilli shrimp paste], Indonesian [gado-gado] or Vegetarian [tofu, black mushrooms, bean sprouts and onion with nibai-zu dressing, a Japanese blend of vinegar and soy].
The soups are from everywhere. Classic Tom Yum Goong from Thailand, hot, sour and spicy and Indonesia?s Soto Ayam [chicken, noodles and spices galore] and Vietnam?s Con Cian Ga; minced chicken, bamboo shoots, coriander and lemongrass in a fragrant broth. From Malaysia is Sayur Lodeh, an unusual combination of coconut, pumpkin and spinach, the classic Japanese Miso Soup and a Chinese Crab and Sweet Corn.
The seafood also draws on many different Asian cooking methods. From Thailand stir-fried prawns in a sauce of crispy garlic and pepper. Baby Garoupa is Chinese style in sweet and sour. Marinated Red Snapper in bamboo is very Indonesian whilst the King Prawns are done Malaysian style with tomato and ginger chilli jam.
The wonderful Massaman Lamb claims to be Malaysian on the menu but it is very much in the style of Muslim Southern Thailand. Massaman curries are thick and fragrant and like all Thai curries the base [curry paste], most complex. The Massaman paste usually consists of red chilies, roasted shallots, roasted garlic, sliced galangal, sliced lemon grass, roasted coriander seeds, roasted cumin, roasted cloves, white pepper, salt and shrimp paste. No wonder the end taste leaves you smiling, nothing bland about this, but it is not ?hot?, just complex tastes that stay on the palate long after you are finished. Another popular and very mild curry is the Panaeng [which really does originate in north-western Malaysia]. It is peanut flavoured, the Tao version comprises chunks of beef. These are two curries that all but the most unadventurous will enjoy and talk about.
You can also have your beef Chinese style, shredded, combined with capsicum and onions in a black pepper sauce. The BBQ Spare Ribs also Chinese style, are marinated then brushed with honey before being grilled.
For the lone diner there are many pasta, rice and noodle dishes. Spaghetti is Italian-Thai fusion [becoming very popular in the cafes of Bangkok], this one with seafood and hot Thai basil. Pad Thai [Thai noodles] are with king prawns and a tamarind sauce and Khao Pad Suparod is pineapple fried rice with chicken, prawns and cashew nuts. From the Hainan province of China the world-famous Chicken Rice, the chicken steamed till it is soft whilst retaining all of its taste.
The location is special, with seascape views, the setting relaxed and the food full of taste, never bland. Most importantly the price at the end will pleasantly surprise you! The prices are very reasonable indeed for this quality of food. On the roof of Tao Beach house is their popular Sunset Bar; watch the sun setting whilst nibbling Thai snacks, and sipping champagne!