Arvin & the best peanuts in the world

You had me at hello. At Tao Yuan, hello = peanuts. It’s the complimentary dish that arrived at the table as the resto’s welcome gesture. The first bite of the must-have-been-boiled-in-a-million-secret-herbs-and-spices delight was mind-blowing. I was hooked on the first nut. As for the rest of the delectable food on the menu, those are the bonuses.

These had me at first bite.

No longer the capital city regular, I am not in touch with the spot’s latest food joints, watering holes and events. If it weren’t for the long layover in Manila and Babyruth who took time off to keep me company, I wouldn’t have known of this Singaporean restaurant, honestly.

Tao Yuan is apparently quite popular. It originated in Singapore and opened its first joint in Malate in 2008 and recently, a branch in Resorts World. Seeing (and hearing) that majority of its patrons are oriental, the place must doing its job well. I am pretty sure it had something to do with the peanuts—an ace on the first serve! 

Tai Yuan at Resorts World Manila

Luckily, I have Babyruth with me. Like the true food expert that she is, she ran through the menu quickly and ordered the must-taste dishes—in Cantonese, no less. “Is there anything you like from the menu?,” she asked me. With a shrug I replied, “I just want another serving of these peanuts.”

And what-I-must-try was served—a feast no two hungry souls can even finish. With so much food, I asked “Is Arvin joining us?,” referring to another Dabawenyo friend of ours who might be in town as well. My host just smiled. 

Is Arvin joining us?

The Boneless Hainanese Chicken paired with the Hainanese Rice, and the Shrimp and Garlic Rolls hit a homerun making me forget about the boiled peanuts….for a very short while.

I LOVE this! Shrimp & Garlic Rolls. 

This one, too. The Boneless Hainanes Chicken

I've never tasted rice this good- the Hainanese Rice

The Peking Duck served three ways was very good, so was the Laksa. 

A most relaxed Peking Duck I've seen.

The right duck & cooking style will always matter.  Served first of three ways- the Peking Duck Wrap

Rich & very tasty- Laksa.

The Cereal Prawn and Mango Lapu-lapu were too sweet for my taste, and the peanuts made superb taste balancers cutting off the lingering sweetness (sweet for me is always best for desserts) from my buds. Then I go through tasting all the dishes on the table once more and wondering if Arvin was coming soon.

Not much of a fan of the Cereal Prawn. It's just too sweet for my taste.

If this wasn't too sweet, I would have loved it.

First time to try the Roasted Hainanese Chicken. I still prefer the  traditional preparation.

Finally, I reached my limit. A bite more (even of that heavenly peanut) and I will explode. That marked the end of the meal and still no Arvin. Maybe he’ll show up on the next visit to this restaurant. I wouldn’t mind at all, there’s still so much on the menu that I would love to try, those and more of the peanuts.

Nice. Almond Paste with Black Sesame Balls.

Some kind of a puff pastry. Amnesia puffs? :)

No wonder Tao Yuan is well liked, the food in this place is very appetizing that it tells you “you’re going to be back for more” and I nodded to that realization as I made my way back to the airport to catch my connecting flight. I was taking with me more than just fond memories of a very tasteful meal enjoyed with a good friend. With a grin, I held on tightly to a container-filled of Tao Yuan peanuts—the best peanuts in the world.

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Published in Sun.Star Weekend on April 14, 2012.