If you advertise a set meal as a "6-course" or "7-course" set meal, and one of those courses is a choice of drink ... does it really count? I'll leave that for you to decide, though, as we bring you our thoughts on the 7-course set dinner at Tao's Modern Pacific Cuisine Restaurant for a very, very attractive price of just SGD29.90.
The concept is such. You pay one price, and there are 7 courses (or 6 food courses and a choice of drink). Some of these courses are fixed; others have several choices to choose from. Regardless of your choice, we're presented with an amuse-bouche-ish starter of something like a passion fruit granite.
1st Course (starter): Bacon and Mushroom Gratin, served with bread to lap up the saucy bacon-mushroom mixture.
2nd Course (salads): Fruit Salad and Prawn Roll & Pork Floss. I'm very disappointed in my fruit salad. It's got a mixture of mango, apple, and other fruits, but strangely topped by chopped minced crab fillet (i.e. crab-flavored fish fillet), which in my opinion just doesn't work. The darling's Prawn Roll looks something like a popiah and is much better, although I do feel it could have done with more generous proportions of filling.
3rd Course: Grilled King Oyster Mushroom & Sorbet. Google tells me that oyster mushrooms are so named because they "look, smell and taste like oysters." Really? I can't eat oysters at all but I had no problems polishing down this dish. If you like mushrooms you'll love this ... if you don't, well, I'm sure one of your dining companions will gladly take it off your hands.
4th Course (drinks): Iced rose apple tea and Iced summer peach tea. Both of these teas were delightful. Apple tea was a little on the sweet side (perfect if you've got a sweet tooth) though, and I'm not sure why the drinks only came halfway through our meal.
5th Course (soup): Japanese Fish Consomme and Cream of Mushroom. The Consomme was nice and clear, if a bit lacking in any sort of fish flavor. Cream of mushroom: again, depends if you like mushrooms or not. It's very strong on the 'mushroom' and very weak on the 'cream,' which is great, no Campbell's mushroom-flavored-cream here!
6th Course (main entrees): Slow Cooked Pork Back Ribs and Marinated Rack of Lamb. I totally loved my ribs. Tender, juicy, and with a great tangy sauce. Top marks. Lamb was also nice and flavorful but I prefer my red meats to be medium-rare or medium; this one came almost well done.
7th Course (desserts): Tiramisu and Crème Brûlée. Nothing spectacular for either of these desserts, to be honest. The Tiramisu is run-of-the-mill and suffers a bit from being non-alcoholic, and we thought the crème brûlée tasted a bit off. The caramelized sugar coating was thick and hard, too!
Conclusion, there were a few good dishes and a few mediocre ones. I wouldn't classify the dishes as particularly gourmet or fine-dining level, but the low price scores it top marks for value for money - where else can you get a 7-course degustation-like menu for SGD30? Worth at least a try so you can decide if this cuisine is for you.
Tao is in PoMo, which is 'behind' the Cathay cineplex near Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. Reservations are needed for weeknights.