Zen Overkill

There seems to be an unmistakable trend in the Kuching dining scene lately.

Jalan Padungan used to be the home of dirty motels and old-fashioned shops selling fruits and vegies. The past few years saw many hip n chic pubs and cafes setting up their bases here, slowly but surely transforming the once nostalgic street into Kuching’s own Bangsar or Clarke Quay.
And I love it. At least now there’s LESS reason for people to complain how boring Kuching is. (Damn you people. YOU HAPPY NOW?)

Magenta, Jalan Nanas

If there’s anything these these new cafes have in common, it’s definitely the over-usage of this “new age Zen” theme in their designs. Must be the overpopularity of Bing, which prompted so many copycat cafes wanting to emulate it’s success.

The latest “culprit” in this game of Zhng My Restaurant is Tao.
Tao is the new “Lifestyle Cafe and Gallery” along Jalan Padungan, and is brought to you by the same owner and designer as my favourite coffee house Bing.
Btw, Tao means “Dao4” in Mandarin. Not “Head” in Hokkien hor.

Havin’ a drink

Food and coffee here is absolutely fantastic. I just don’t know what to make of the ambience.
It’s like whichever direction I look to, there’s a blardy image of Buddha…




All these Buddha paintings and statues is scaring me a little. I had to look up at the ceiling because I figured hey, they can’t possibly hang a statue of Buddha over my head right?
Guess what I saw?

Nabeh, want to drink one cup of coffee also have to like bai Tua Peh Kong liddat.

Met up with a friend over CNY who remarked that she felt herself becoming more and more stupid ever since she started working for the press. “It’s like everyday I wake up, my IQ level dwindles down a little.”
I don’t blame her. That’s the way it is over here aye? After all, she’s paid to be a minion, not to have an opinion.

72 Replies to “Zen Overkill”

  1. Hope all the old isn’t all gone on Padungan before I get there. I have a favorite cafe, bakery, bicycle (ond other stuff) shop, a good cheap hotel that offers additional professional services (which I decline thank you) and an absolutely excellent location.

  2. Lol, and Taoism has absolutely nothing to do with Buddhism!
    IF they had really wanted to be consistent with their theme, they should get statues of Laozi instead.

  3. It’s like whichever direction I look to, there’s a blardy image of Buddha
    hor hor! die liau… gahmen going to suspend your blog! Revolusi!

  4. OH HO! u die liao. the buddhist ppl gonna come after u for insulting their religion.
    got the monday blues but u put a smile on my face with this post. thanks. 🙂

  5. Wah, this restaurant is so scary, hor? u cant do anything bad! Coz, somebody is watching… better be careful!
    Kuzco & Pete,
    Kenny kena ISA liau… haha!
    choi choi choi! (tai kat lai si) touchwood nia! hehe…

  6. gosh… are you sure it’s not a cafe in a temple? Hiaks…good thing they don’t burn them humongous joss sticks at every table! Haha!

  7. haha…
    but it’s kinda weird to have these deco…i mean…joss sticks on the top…i wonder what Lillian Too would say about the feng shui there…XD
    btw…they dun sell alcohol in there rite?…or else..lol…let’s hope they dun make a pub put of that deco…XD

  8. Buddhists are generally very tolerant, peace loving believers. Please show some respect for the religion. It is one faith where it invites you to question its teachings openly, without any pre-conditions. That allows one to be at peace with oneself once you really fathom its teachings. Hence association with zen etc. Some people just carry it too far. Imagine a cafe with images of prophets of other religions…please tell that to the cafe owner too.

  9. na mo oh me to fall,,,,what would like to order?latte, expresso or simply donate money?
    Those buddha cafe should donate 20% of their income to charity,,as royalties to Buddha for using his holy image to market.
    I am one of the fund manager. Email your credit number and expiry date and code to consularmalaysia@yahoo.com
    I will send u a receipt.

  10. i think they over did the joss sticks part.. thats creepy… more creepy then you are doing your business, then u realise you are out of toilet paper, and a cockroach is on the floor beside the door, and u got nowhere to run… help me… i’m stuck in the toilet..
    buddha lounge is cool though.. but too many statue makes u feel like standing in the middle of cemetry..

  11. Tao’s design a little like Bing because they are using the same designer & before Bing opened, (Tao) was suppose to be it’s name & these two place is using the same coffee beans and same concept except different Tauke ler
    I felt like i’ve been cursed since the day I went there having coffee and just starred at the buddhas having millions odd thoughts in mind and yet do nothing to pray or whatsoever since it looks so much like Tua Pek Kong… Ai Si Liaw Ai Si Liaw

  12. Eh.. Bing and Tao are not own by the same owner lar – only designed by the same interior decoration who also did Magenta.
    Bing’s owner is Adenan Satem’s son, Paul whereas Tao ‘s is Michael Manyin’s daughter, Irene. =)

  13. who said what about the Buddhists coming after Kenny for whatever shit he said? They’re seeking enlightenment, I don’t think slapping him to death would get them there faster, thank you very much…

  14. Haha. I like Tao’s ambience, but the their coffees are not as good as bing!’s. bing!’s coffees are nicer and have stronger caffeines, and cheaper by RM 1. =D

  15. if u sit on the 2nd table from the door (ground floor), you’ll get dirt from people’s shoes walkin above falling onto the table and YOU! and ur drinks! look above next time, it’s loose floorboards. gross.

  16. haha.. this way, sure got no GHOST in the place,
    but hmmm.. the jose stick didn’t light up.. so it is like dangling a drumstick in front of the gods…

  17. haha…tat’s funny…
    anyway, maybe tao does not refer to taoism which of cos is not related to buddism…
    rather, dao is the way towards nirvana? tat’s how I infer it anyway…

  18. hei dude good work!! one influential relative who i sleep with every nite had insisted that i visit Kuching as some of our relatives are there.
    Being dragging my feet for a long time cos i think Kuching is reallz ulu like Labuan which i had been to. And to drag myself to Senai across the 2nd link (i live in SG) to catch a flight is definitely a good demotivator.
    But those stuff in yr blog paints a different picture. Especially like your feature on the food!!
    You are one cool Kat who single handedly uplifted the image of Kuching!!

  19. Aww, as if you couldn’t have guessed the cafe’s theme and preampted the possible presence of eastern religion artifacts from its NAME.

  20. i wonder if its related to the restaurant also named Tao in New York City. Apparently, its doing so good that they opened another one in Vegas. I wonder if the rest. co. would take action coz the logo is very very similar, so its the decor and everything. Just a random remark here.

  21. seems like the interior designer infused the place with a frighteningly excessive amount of zen buddhism elements :/
    it almost looks like a 21st century temple…the place seems ideal as a funky vegetarian complex for western celebrity buddhists though
    Wonder if they’d serve beef and beer in a place like that.

  22. LOL… Tao means “road”. That’s how I looked at… nothing else. I like the part about the dirt falling into your food and drinks LOL… too much of the statues are really damn scary. Too much of something is really bad enough.
    Lyne: Hmm.. you mean Irene Manyin? Is she the same owner of Asiana Homes?

  23. I think it’s a great concept and helps us to see Buddha in a more ‘trendy’ and personal manner instead of thinking it’s just tradition/old-fashioned. It’s also a counter against the ‘charismatic movement’ of the churches where they attract lots of gullible young ppl (including myself from a long time ago).

  24. Kenny is a liar man..i mean he said that BINGS and TAO is the same owner..bullshit..i know both the owner..Bings! owner is PAUL SATEM..and owner of TAO is Irene Manyin..what a bullshitter man kenny..used to like reading ur blog until this entry..
    [KS: but but but… I didn’t knowwwwwwww… ;)]

  25. …and it is not “zen” just a bunch of buddha images, sculptures and whatnots. who ever heard of a zen bars? zen restaurants? zen is not a decorative “style” or whateveryouliketocallit. it is like saying that i have several circular columns in front of my house it is authentic greco-roman shat eh? isit?

  26. the one in NY is a restaurant…the one in kch is a cafe..so..you cant just compare like that… the coffee quality of bing and tao…actually the same..it just depends on the barista on duty… same goes to the service quality..in terms of price..well..no comments…but it seems that ppl do still come to tao…meaning only ‘pretenders’ will complain on the pricing…good coffee..good service, i dun think i will mind paying extra for it….

  27. Why do you guys wanna argue over the design of both Bing and Tao?……I believe both have their own identity and creative ideas. Just because they sell almost the same products does not mean they are owned by the same people or they copy each other. Just because plenty of Buddha statue does not mean that they worship Buddhism, it’s merely items of decorations that they use to make the environment more pleasant. Believe me, the setup cost is not at all low for these type of places.

  28. dude, i tot magenta, bing, and tao…was designed by their own respective owner?…..and cant really say copy bing, coz all cafe have all these ice blended..smoothies….something like that..tao got identity drink tho…tao’s geen tea ice blended…

  29. all and all i think its just a place for us to chill in, if u like it then go, and if not then there are always other choices like bing? you’ll who thinks its a Zen overkill then there is always seattle.co so pls don’t go arnd mixing coffee with religeon.. have some respect 😉

  30. “It’s like whichever direction I look to, there’s a blardy image of Buddha…”
    you can’t even get a cup of coffee in peace now – maybe they are trying to guilt-trip you into meditating instead of ingesting caffeine :p

  31. i went Tao several times when i’m back in Kuching last month and it’s a great place! i like the decor, coffee… and of cuz…u guys can’t compare this with the “original” Tao Restaurant in NYC. How can you guys compare kuching with NYC? We don’t even have Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise in Kuching…lolz
    Rev@Los Angeles

  32. we really love to make comparisons…it seems inevitable not to make any comparison when there’s only one similarity,and subtle differences.hey guys…why cant you for once let tao and bing stand in its seperate entity?what is there to debate?why cant we learn to appreciate differences and not trying to make things same.its hard and pointless…much like cultural differences-we should learn to appreciate not comparing and argue whose culture is the best

  33. wah… your blog really funny leh!! how come i also kuching ppl never knew about all these places???? i miss kuching!!!

  34. as a pro barista…i think the coffee beans that this so-called temple cafe using is very nice…im lovin it!but then again…all coffee bar in kch are using the same bean…so musta been the buddha’s jampi…ichak!

  35. tao’s deco is supposedly balinese (pssst – thats the only way the decorator knows how to decorate) and it has no association with buddhism despite all the statues and images of buddha. they even have a pukey andy warhol buddha. the decorator himself named the place as part of his recycling geniustupidititeous brainstorm (refer to Tao in Vegas and NYC)

  36. as for the joss sticks… they’re not joss sticks, its those aromatherapy-whachamacallit-incense thingy. nothing impressive.
    the only reason i WENT to tao WAS bcos of its cakes (suppliED by magenta i heard) but now irene makes them and… i dont go there anymore. plus, melanie, the manager, quit. i dont like the seats there either but thought that the doorhandle and the pond was pretty cool but now i’m in love with bla bla bla’s pond.
    tao and bing uses the same decorator but tao turned out to be more shiteoulicious. poor irene. and the same whoreanus decorator who once claimed that he DOES magenta and he CO-OWNS magenta. maybe that’s one of the reason i subconsciously dont wanna go to magenta, so that i dont get nauseous despite kenny’s rave reviews.
    that’s all.
    P.S. all Dilmah lovers, one box of any flavor dilmah tea you want only costs RM 2.50 in Sri Lanka.

  37. reading your old posts and came across this. now tao has a new owner and a new name, 175 cafe. the statues and paintings have been removed. the food is quite nice. check it out

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