Visiting the Pachinko Parlors at Tao

No, the game doesn't work. But the sink does!Photo: Daniel Maurer


Last week we took a trip to the Far East to hit the loos at Sapa. Now let’s travel even farther east and a little bit north (Madison Avenue at 55th Street!) to Tao, an eatery that’s so authentically Pan-Asian it boasts an enormous Buddha. But then again, so does every other restaurant in town. So how is Tao to distinguish itself from Megu, Buddakan, Buddha Bar, and the rest of them? Via its restrooms, of course!

Concept: Old-world Asian (a sink full of stones) meets new (a pachinko machine over the toilet).
Privacy: Despite floor-to-ceiling stall doors, it’s noisy.
Amenities: In the men’s room, an illuminated wall of falling water serves as a urinal (hm, we’ve seen this before) and a bathroom attendant offers soap as you wash up over the semi-tubular sink. On a chinoiserie table, there’s everything from contact fluid to lollipops to Axe body spray (shudder).
Drawbacks: The women’s and men’s rooms are confusingly marked Yin and Yang.
Strategy: Use a pneumonic device to remember which one is the men’s room: “Yang, mang!”
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