Go, go Gao (restaurant review)

Jerusalem Post, Weekend Magazine; June 14, 2007

Meaning “a step forward” in Thai, Gao is a kosher Thai kitchen located on Tel Aviv’s Rehov Hahashmonaim. The name struck a chord, owner Amir Adar says, because he sought a “step forward” after he had to close his dairy restaurant in Safed after the Second Lebanon War made business plummet.

Gao, however, is a step forward in other ways as well. It offers quality, fresh and authentic kosher Thai cuisine in a very clean, sleek, modern setting. Portraits of Japanese graffiti and gibberish on the walls seem like a non-sequitur but contribute to the cute, easy vibe of the joint.

Gao food can best be characterized as “gourmet fast food.” “Gourmet” because of the quality of the raw materials, the attention to detail by the Thai chefs and the consistent standards; “fast” because the meals are prepared quickly and Gao specializes in take-out. The menu offers a very large selection of classic Thai dishes, making Gao a lunch-hour favorite for businesses in the restaurant-packed area.

I started with the egg rolls (NIS 9), served aesthetically on white ceramic. While the flavor was fine but no more, it was clear the preparation wasn’t hasty or haphazard. The fish noodles (NIS 38), a Thai concoction of salmon, leek, spinach and cashews, was very good, with just the right blend of soy and ginger.

The same quality was evident in the Beef Gao (NIS 37), tempura beef made with crunchy raw sweet potato, onions, carrots, peppers and cashews. Because of its rich flavor, I would have rather it came with white rice, rather than the mediocre flavored rice I was served for absorbing the rich sauce.

The prices here are reasonable, especially considering the generous portions.
On Friday Gao has an excellent 20 percent off deal, which makes it a recommended Shabbat take-out option. For NIS 100 you can buy a Friday night meal that can serve at least four people, if you fancy Asian cuisine for Shabbat. I heated up the chicken Gao Pat Kati on Friday evening. Of course, it lost some of its freshness and the oil sank to the bottom, but for NIS 30, the tasty chicken/ broccoli dish was more than worth it.

Gao, Rehov Hahashmonaim 91, Tel Aviv.
Tel. (03) 561-3553. Kosher.

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