Chef Lee Tong Kuon, the former executive chef and co-owner of the Thai Village Holdings Ltd, is flying the banner high for Thai-Teochew cuisine with eco-friendly seafood supply at the new restaurant brand, TAO Seafood Asia, created and managed by his son, Adrian Lee.
In 1989, the young chef Lee’s mentor recommended that he help a new Singaporean restaurateur set up a new restaurant, Klongtan Ping, in Holland Village.
As chef’s culinary skills evolved, his own unique flair in the refined Thai-Teochew seafood delicacies earned him an army of loyal gourmet clients and imitators, and in 1991, the entrepreneur in him co-founded Thai Village Sharksfin Restaurant with his brother.
The success and popularity of chef Lee’s said cuisine brought the humble brand to new international heights with branches in the Asia Pacific region and a public listing in Singapore in 2000.
When chef Lee’s equally enterprising son, Adrian, proffered a new initiative that took the form of TAO Seafood Asia; he knew he found his silver Lining. “I was very happy for Adrian as he practically grew up in this business and I secretly hoped that he would employ me,” says the chef.
TAO had their soft opening in the first quarter of 2014 under Adrian’s leadership, and chef Lee will officially join the team in November upon fulfilling his non-competitive obligation with his previous company.
“Adrian and I agreed that we only use produce that are from sustainable sources and specific ingredients to ensure that our seafood cuisine not only bears TAO’s actual touch but with the right ingredients,” explains chef. So dedicated to their commitment that Adrian and his team would fly regularly to meet reputable produce-suppliers/farmers just to procure the types stipulated by chef Lee.
It stands to reason, then, that the brand’s slogan “where gourmets gather” is as befitting as the uncompromised quality of chef Lee’s signatures such as Chilled Jellyfish Salad, Crispy Fish Skin with Salted-egg Sauce, TAO’s Signature Soup with Premium New Zealand Fish Maw and Crab Meat, Steamed Marble Goby with Preserved Radish, Pot Roasted Crab with Glass Noodle, and his new creations, Fried Fish Maw with Prawns and White Pepper Crab.
“Any good chef who is worth his or her weight in salt should never compromise on their preferred choice of produce as we have an obligation to our loyal customers,” he says, “that is the sole reason customers follow you and imitators cannot be you, no matter how hard they try.”
Having had a glimpse of the retired lifestyle, the comeback chef shows no hurry in searching for that seaside oasis. Feeding off his revived passion in food and the much-appreciated second chance in his career, the stately chef Lee continues, “as long as my customers are willing, I will never stop cooking.”
TAO Seafood Asia gets its inspiration from a legendary food-loving Chinese mythical creature known as “饕餮” (tāo tiè) in Mandarin. Its Chinese name, “饕聚” (tāo jù) , means the gathering of gourmets which holds true to the brand’s ethos.
The hidden gem of Asia Square Towers specialises in Thai-Teochew cuisine where gourmets can gather for the best of culinary creations, the most robust of flavours and the freshest of quality ingredients, and also a seafood heaven where celebrants can gather for milestone, jubilees, daily triumphs or simply, good food.
TAO Seafood Asia
12 Marina View
Asia Square Tower 2
T: +65 68449969
11:30am to 2:30pm and 6:00pm to 10:00pm, Mondays to Sundays
Last order by 9:30pm