first impression | Tai Ke originally opened in U.City in 2015, but the popular Taiwanese spot was forced to close its doors in 2020 due to the impending arrival of Costco. The team launched a new concept a little further west on Olive Blvd., combining dishes from the original menu with shabu shabu, a Japanese-style hot pot. The highlight of the new space is a large white bar featuring induction cooktops where guests can cook protein and veggies in individual hot pots.

must try

Gua Bao, $7.99: These steamed buns come with braised pork belly, cilantro, ground peanuts and pickled mustard greens. Even with one member of our dining party not liking cilantro and another who doesn’t do peanuts, these were a hit. The pork belly is marinated perfectly, leaving it moist and flavorful. It also wasn’t just a mouthful of fat like the cut can sometimes be. The serving comes with two buns, making it a nice
bite to share.

Sticky Rice Cake, $6.99: Like the Gua Bao, this is a dish from the Taiwanese Street Snack menu. The little dome of rice is served with dried shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, pork floss and a sauce. The flavors of this one strike the perfect balance. A nice sweetness is paired with an umami richness that makes it pretty addicting.

Tai Ke Crispy Chicken, $7.99: The chicken was crispy, flavorful and moist. The breading is more akin to panko than what is generally found on traditional American fried chicken. One member of our dining party
likened it to the cornbread coating often found on oysters. The serving we were given was only dark meat, so white meat fans take note.

Mushroom Hot Pot, $17.99: The sole vegetarian hot pot option, this is served with vegetable broth instead of the pork that comes with the others. The broth is available in original or spicy. We opted for the latter, which was flavorful without burning your taste buds off. On its own, the hot pot comes with a variety of mushrooms, greens, corn and lotus root. The dish is endlessly customizable with various
add-ons, ranging from more veggies to dumplings and meatballs to seafood and proteins.

Sizzling Noodle with Black Pepper Sauce, $9.99: The name is no joke—the dish comes out on a sizzling plate. It consists of noodles cooked with bell peppers and onions and served with a black pepper sauce. If you are a fan of Tai Ke’s Sizzling Tenderloin Beef, this is a nice option if you’re looking for something without meat or just prefer noodles over rice.

As a fan of the original Tai Ke, it’s great to see that it not only survived its move, but also is thriving and evolving with its new concept. The new space is lovely and inviting, and the addition of hot pot creates a dining experience you won’t be able to find anywhere else in St. Louis right now. Plus, the dishes that made the move from the original menu are as tasty as ever. It’s truly a win-win for foodies.

9626 Olive Blvd.

Pictured at top: Stir Fry Spicy Beef with Garlic Stem: Beef tenderloin with garlic stem and chili
Photo: Bill Barrett