restaurants
Tao Downtown
92 Ninth Avenue
212 888 2724

Perhaps the most theatrical restaurant staircase in New York belongs to the gigantic Tao Downtown. A bit of Las Vegas in New York, this Asian-themed funhouse features a sceney mezzanine bar which mostly sees bankers on the weekdays and Long Island high rollers on the weekends, an enormous dining room that does its best work for black card-carrying business group dinners, and a private dining room that has been used to launch the latest vintage of the very rare Courvoisier L'Essence. In any given evening, there might be British moguls doing deals at the bar upstairs, fashion industry start-up girls ordering everything on the menu in a booth downstairs, and a smattering of celebs peeling off bills for drinks at the bar in the bathroom. That's right, this place is so action-packed it delivers an entire evening's entertainment even at the loo where drinks can be ordered while you wait for your significant other. Even waiting for a table at the top of that staircase - it would make Norma Desmond proud - is no boring matter as you might see Michael Jordan doing the same (we did) or catch the light show that glitters on the main room's enormous buddha (falling petals and the like). The menu, which never seems to end, features Japanese skewers, an array of creative sushi rolls and sashimi, dim sum, barbeque including spare ribs, and spiced ribs, tempura, noodles, and all manners of meat and seafood choices. You can't go wrong with what we chose, which was the roasted shisito peppers, lettuce wraps, black bean black bass, quinoa crab sushi roll, miso Chilean cod, veggie udon, and Asian green stir fry of pea shoots and Chinese broccoli.

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