Tag Archives: Dao

The Path to Dao

Dao, in the Chinese culture, means “way” or “path.” The path to the new Dao Restaurant in the Bannerman Crossings Shopping Center has its own special significance in Tallahassee, beginning decades ago, with local icon and entrepreneur Lucy Ho.

A pioneer of Chinese restaurants in Tallahassee, she opened her first venue, Lucy Ho’s Bamboo Garden, in 1970 and later launched Masa and Azu. Ho has retired, but her vision continues with Masa Nagashima, general manager of her restaurants for nearly 40 years, and Kenny Fan, the nephew of her late husband, who was a kitchen manager at Azu.

Nagashima, who is of Japanese heritage, and Fan, who is Taiwanese, are now both co-owners of Azu, on Apalachee Parkway, and Dao, which opened April 13 in the upscale Bannerman Crossings center.

If you’re a fan of Azu, you’ll be happy to have this outpost of the pan-Asian restaurant in the Northeast. The menu is the same as Azu’s except that some dishes are $1 or $2 more.


The setting
The setting is contemporary, desirable for a date night yet casual enough to bring the family. It’s spacious, with room for 209, but there’s warmth here, with lots of wood and subtle hues. Seating mixes tables and comfortable booths and there’s outdoor dining. Of special interest are the elegant displays of teapots from Taiwan. Dao has a room for private parties seating up to 24.


Dig In
Like many Asian restaurants, Dao has a huge menu so after two visits we’ve still only sampled a small portion of the choices available here. The restaurant offers plenty of appetizers, soups and salads if you just want to graze plus hot entrees and sushi, aiming to do justice to three cuisines — Chinese, Thai and Japanese.

As for starters, our four pan-seared pork dumplings (you can also order them steamed) were delicious, pan-fried to a golden brown, totally binge-worthy. We also liked the plate-size scallion pancake, crisp on the outside, chewy inside, pan-fired, and served with a dipping sauce of rich coconut curry. The fried oysters were coated with a light panko crust, and while not the best we’ve had, were tasty.

One of our favorite dishes at Dao was the coconut chicken curry, my husband’s go-to choice at most Thai restaurants. He was happy with Dao’s rendition, brimming with pieces of white chicken, green and red bell peppers and bamboo shoots in a lush sauce with a slight kick. All dishes come with steamed or fried rice.

Our friend raved about her Peking duck (she chose a half order), a generous serving of succulent, thinly sliced meat served alongside pieces of mouthwatering, crisp skin. You can slice open the accompanying doughy lotus pancakes and make a sandwich with the duck, skin and green onions.

The grouper filet was outstanding, a large piece of fish lightly breaded and fried, topped with bits of mapo tofu, a mix of ground pork and tofu in a perky sauce. On the side was perfectly cooked broccoli.

If you like beef, the shiitake steak was an eight-ounce rib-eye, which we ordered medium rare. The meat was tender, served with lots of shiitake and white button mushrooms in a soy-based sauce, and broccoli. It was much better than the beef tenderloin we ordered on our second visit to Dao. That tenderloin was overcooked and chewy — the saving grace was an array of just-firm sweet bell peppers, zucchini and mangoes.

Azu fans will also be happy to find Chinese classics like the salt-and-pepper soft shell crab, soy ginger cod, General Tso’s chicken, stir-fried eggplant, and Taiwanese-style rice noodles at Dao.

The menu offers six Japanese dinners, including teriyaki, tempura and panko-fried cutlets, which come with soup and salad. A friend ordered grilled chicken teriyaki, with green beans and some greenery (so you essentially get two salads). The chicken was moist and tender but it could have used a little more punch.

Dao has an extensive selection of sushi and sashimi, including dinners and a la carte choices, nigiri (leel, quail eggs with smelt roe, flying fish or squid), hand rolls (seaweed outside) and a list of more than three dozen rolls, including veggie rolls and picks such as the Philadelphia with smoked salmon, cream cheese and scallions, and the Dragon Fly, with eel, cream cheese, avocado, tuna, with eel and kimchi sauces.

We skipped the more elaborate combos and opted for the simple spicy tuna roll and the shrimp tempura, with a piece of the fried shellfish poking out of a roll with mayo and a spring mix, both standards done very well here.

We didn’t have dessert but Dao offers several choices, including ice cream, sesame balls, crème brûlée, fried cheesecake, and “Peanut Butter Explosion.”

Service
Servers are young, friendly and helpful. When we took home leftovers, we were given a new carton of rice, a nice touch.

The bar
Dao has a full bar, plus bottled and draft beer (including Japanese beers Sapporo and Kirin), a small but varied wine list and hot and cold sake.

Bottom line
We found mostly hits and a few misses at Dao, but overall it’s a pleasant dining experience with reasonable prices and a welcoming atmosphere.


When you go …
Dao
3425 Bannerman Rd., Unit A102, Tallahassee.
850-999-1482

Cost
Starters $2.50 to $15, entrees $9 to $22 ($40 for a whole Peking duck), rolls $4 to $16, sushi and sashimi dinners $18 to $28, dessert $4 to $7.50.

Hours
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday to Thursday.

Reservations
Accepted.

Tallahassee Table Rating
Worth a Drive

Rochelle Koff writes about food and dining at TallahasseeTable.com, and on Facebook, @TheTallahasseeTable and Twitter @tallytable. Reach her at TallahasseeTable@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Fall for new restaurants

Fall has arrived but Tallahassee’s dining scene is still hot. Since Sept. 1, at least seven restaurants have opened and more are on the way. Fortunately, this is a city hungry for new places to try.

Tacos spice up November with the opening of two new venues: El Cocinero Tacos & Tequila in the former Up in Smoke space on Tennessee Street, and Taco Bout It on Gaines Street.  Saki Sushi in Midtown is being converted to  Izzy Pub / Sushi Bar, offering  Asian-inspired small plates as well as sushi in late November/early December.

Other new arrivals in late 2016 or early 2017 include Asian spots (Dao, in Bannerman Crossings,  and Lemongrass, in the Centre of Tallahassee) and a sports bar (Dick’s Wings, in Bannerman). And, some old favorites (The Egg,  Lofty Pursuits and Village Inn) are branching out or on the move.

Recently opened

Bento Cafe: The casual Asian restaurant opened its ninth Florida location, near the Florida State University campus, on Oct. 11. The chain, which started in Gainesville in 2002, is known for its combinations or Bento boxes, build-your-own poké bowls (with chopped items), sushi, rice bowls, noodle dishes and boba teas. Pretty much everything is under $11.
1606 W Tennessee St.
850-765-3991

Blu Halo: The swanky new restaurant opened Sept. 22 in Bannerman Crossings, bringing an upmarket venue to the northern burbs of Tallahassee. The menu offers high-roller items like a $98 bone-in ribeye (for two) and a $200 martini, but there are more affordable entrees priced under $25. The restaurant features brunch on Saturday and Sunday, patio seating and a private room.
3431 Bannerman Rd.
850-792-7884

Centrale Italian Parlour: Open since Oct. 7, this stylish new venue, which touts “old-school Italian fare,” isn’t just a haven for students despite its College Town location. From the folks at Madison Social, Centrale’s menu includes charcouterie boards, salads, pasta and brick-oven pizza. Stop by during Benvenuti, Centrale’s version of Happy Hour, and sample the pizza.
815 W. Madison St.
850-765-6799

  missionbbq    

Mission BBQ: The 37th location of this Baltimore-based barbecue joint, which opened Oct. 24, is the latest food spot at Magnolia Grove, offering brisket, pulled pork, smoked salmon, ribs and the usual ‘fixins.’ The name of the chain, which opened its first location on Sept. 11, 2011, relates to its support of the military and law enforcement through tributes and special events.
216 S. Magnolia Dr.
850-702-3513

tazikis

Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe: This local link in the Birmingham-based chain opened Oct. 4 in Magnolia Grove. The chain, with 60 restaurants, boasts “no fryers or freezers or microwaves” to prepare its menu of gyros, hummus, grilled vegetable plates and salads along with other Greek/Mediterranean dishes. But you’ll also find a pimento cheese sandwich.
216 S. Magnolia Dr.
850-329-6056

tequilatribe

Tequila Tribe: In the former site of the now-closed 101 Restaurant, the new eatery serves guacamole made tableside, main dishes like rib-eye with chimichurri sauce and rice bowls, along with typical Mexican-style fare. The restaurant, which opened Sept. 27, is a joint venture with El Jalisco, a group of Mexican restaurants, and Adam Corey and Ryan Grindler, the pair behind The Edison and the 101.
Kleman Plaza, 215 W. College Ave.
850-391-5204

gelato

The Urban Food Market: The stars of the new Urban Food Market at Centre of Tallahassee are five Italian chefs and a sommelier, longtime friends who share their expertise in one urban market. The market, still evolving, offers fine-dining at +Trentanove (+39, the country phone code for Italy) plus the Digia pasta bar, Fiocco gelato cafe, Iolo Pizza, Becher Meat & Provisions, a wine and beer shop and wine bar, a sandwich counter and a rotisserie.
Centre of Tallahassee, 2415 N. Market St.
850-895-1328

Upcoming

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El Cocinero Tacos & Tequila: Jesse Edmunds, chef/owner of Liberty Bar & Restaurant, will be opening this new venture with a straightforward menu of tacos and tequila (plus other spirits). The place will have seating for 150 plus a small bar.  Edmunds said he’s not aiming for authentic Mexican food, but he’ll use authentic techniques to prepare his street fare, with an emphasis on local ingredients. The chef will use dried corn from Tallahassee’s Bumpy Road Farm for its homemade tortillas. A soft opening is planned for early November.
402 E Tennessee St.

tacoboutit

Taco Bout It: This spot will focus on four types of gluten-free tacos: pork, pulled chicken, rib-eye and a vegetable/vegan choice with a mix of mushrooms. The emphasis is to be on simple and fresh, with minimal toppings, said chef and general manager C.J. Reilly, most recently chef at Wine Loft and Christoff’s. Customers will initially get their tacos from a pass-through window, with the dining room coming later. It’s expected to open in late November.
507 W. Gaines St.

Izzy:  Sushi chef Xinzheng “Alex” Fang is converting his restaurant Saki Sushi to Izzy, a pub and sushi bar, working with new partners, Viet and Nam Vu. The brothers, who attended Leon County High School and Florida State University, co-own Taco Republik (with a silent partner), located across the street. Izzy shares a patio with the new indie bookstore, Midtown Reader. Viet Vu said he and his brother, also owners of the MoBi food truck, will be offering a pub menu of Japanese-inspired snacks like (chicken) yakitori and pork belly skewers, bratwurst pot stickers and rice bowls among other small plates. Fang will run the sushi bar, which will include a tasting menu and some novel ideas, Vu said.Plans are for a soft opening at the end of November with a regular opening in early December.
1123 Thomasville Rd.

Lemongrass: The sign is in the window but it could be 2017 before this locally owned Vietnamese and sushi restaurant opens at the Centre of Tallahassee.

Details to come

Dao, an upscale space from the same owners of Azu, is expected to open in March at Bannerman Crossings. It will become the largest restaurant in the new shopping center. Also coming to the same shopping center: Dick’s Wings, a family sports bar setting, an Italian restaurant (name to come) and a Subway, to open by January.
6668 Thomasville Rd.

On the move

The Egg Cafe & Eatery: The breakfast and lunch restaurant, at 3740 Austin Davis Ave., is opening a downtown branch in the Plaza Tower in Kleman Plaza in spring 2017. The Egg also operates a small cafe in the Museum of Florida History but the downtown expansion will feature the same menu as the original location.
The new branch will be at 300 S. Duval St.

Lofty Pursuits: The ice cream shop has moved across the street (to the former Morelia’s and Shogun site) and is now offering traditional breakfast items in addition to its dessert menu.
1355 Market St.
850-521-0091

Village Inn:  The new branch of the family restaurant, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is now open in the Magnolia Grove Development. Village Inn closed its Apalachee Parkway site but still operates its  location at 3392 Lonnbladh Rd.onnbladh Road near Raymond Diehl Road and Interstate 10,
1225 Park Avenue East
850-877-8471