Chesterton Tribune

Tao Chen's open here -- Welcome back Tao and Eddie

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Tao Chen and Eddie Moy, original owners of Jade East in Indian Oak Mall, have returned after a hiatus and opened Tao Chen’s at the same location, 532 Indian Boundary Rd.

While customers can expect the fine Chinese cuisine that made the restaurant popular for 18 years, they will be pleasantly surprised to see the decor like that found in China today, not the stereotypical China Town decor primarily found in U.S. restaurants.

“China is modern,” said Tao Chen, the restaurant’s namesake. “Today the skyline resembles those found in the United States. There are still some restaurants that have the old-fashioned decor, but that is not the norm.”

“We wanted to have a (restaurant) name that was distinctive - not like those used so much in this country,” Tao continued.

She said they selected the name Chen, but friends encouraged them to add Tao to the name to make it have more of a “musical ring.” She said she was a little embarrassed at first, because she is not narcissistic, but agreed it does sound better.

Tao is a native of Beijing and Eddie is originally from Hong Kong. His family migrated to Chicago, and he followed their lead in the restaurant business. She said in China, husbands and wives keep their own last names.

“What I know about the restaurant business is what I have learned from Eddie,” Tao said.

As we discussed the restaurant, customers steadily coming into the restaurant all complimented Eddie and Tao on its decor. And rightly so. The neutral colors are calming and the artwork, meticulously placed, is exquisite.

Tao said she designed the restaurant the way she wanted it to look.

Booths line one wall and another set are in the center of the room. Tables are located on the other two walls. Each area gives privacy to the diners.

At the entrance, visitors are greeted by a medallion on the facing wall, then once inside, a large, colorful painting that Eddie received many years ago, but had not framed until now, welcomes guests, by setting the mood that this is indeed a place for fine dining.

Several paintings and other art work are sparingly placed throughout the dining room. One painting on bamboo, was a wedding gift, she said. The series of calligraphy paintings on rice paper were made for her by her father.

“I told him how many I needed, and allowed him to write what he wanted,” she said, obviously pleased with the result. He made them at his home in Beijing and she framed them here with the idea of placing them exactly where they are displayed today. Some of the lettering says “Delectable place with good drink and delicious food, friend and family gathering together, laughing and enjoying...”

One nook is decorated with four art pieces that depict Chinese opera characters.

Also one wall near the entrance to the dining room, displays Chinese ceramics, some gifts from friends.

Tau, who creates jewelry, and who has previously had a booth at the European Market in Chesterton, now shows and sells her jewelry from a glass display case in front of the cash register. Also behind the register, she proudly displays a painting her brother made for her.

The food here is Mandarin. It is a little different from the Cantonese, which is served in most buffet-style restaurants. The sauces and spices are different also, she said.

“It also tastes different because it is made in small quantities, instead of large quantities placed in warming dishes,” she said, adding that the woks used here are smaller and food in them cooked differently.

When asked what makes the rice so much better than what most people can make at home, Eddie smiled and said the secret is the amount of water used.

Tea, which is the common beverage served here, is Oolong.

“American’s like a stronger tea,” Eddie said about the kind served here.

There are over 350 items on the menu. Eddie said some of the most popular choices are the Orange Chicken, Sesame Chicken, Lettuce Wraps, Empress Chicken, Happy Family combination, Mongolian Beef and the vegetarian choices, especially the Coconut Curry Vegetable.

Whatever one selects, expect good food, exceptional service, and an atmosphere in which you can relax and enjoy. There is no rush and the background music is classical Chinese and presented at a pleasant listening level. And last, but not least, the prices are moderate.

Hours are Monday - Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday - Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, Noon to 8:30 p.m.

For carry out - call 926-2542 or fax 926-3752.


Posted 8/17/2006