Steven Ni is embracing the culinary past while hoping to forge a new future for Asian cuisine in Collierville.
This spring, the local restauranteur opened Tao Asian Cuisine in the spot that previously housed Lee Kan’s Asian Grill, which closed earlier this year.
Ni, who has lived in Collierville for 15 years, was eager to open a restaurant in the town he calls home.
“Collierville has a very peaceful and friendly atmosphere,” said Ni, who formerly lived in New York. “People know who you are. I feel like I know most of the people in Collierville.”
Ni, who has operated Friday Tuna on Germantown Parkway for six years, said his newest venture features many of the same staples of the popular Cordova restaurant.
The sushi menu and quality at the Collierville restaurant are identical to Friday Tuna.
“People know we are the best sushi,” Ni said.
He attributes this reputation to the “freshness” of his sushi and noted that he uses “less rice and more ingredients.”
Ni has added a Thai menu at his new restaurant and even prepares several popular dishes (including the Velvet Roll and General Tso’s chicken) from Lee Kan’s menu.
The restaurant, which also serves Japanese and Chinese food, will have a grand opening later this summer. A website (taomemphis.com) is expected to go live in the next few weeks.
Ni, who prides himself on healthy cuisine, does not prepare dishes with MSG.
“I try to watch people’s health,” he explained.
Tao Asian Cuisine, which also accepts take-out orders, seats 118 and includes three private party rooms.
Some of the restaurant’s more popular items include the Aryana Roll, which is fried tempura-style and includes spicy crawfish, avocado and cream cheese. It is topped with sweet roe, green onion, a creamy sauce an an eel sauce.
Ni is also proud of the Thai Basil Chicken, the Pad Thai and the Japanese bento boxes, which are featured on the lunch menu.
“I’m happy to be in Collierville,” said Ni, who’s children attend Collierville Schools. “I really enjoy living here.”