It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten really excited about the restaurant scene in Shanghai. Recently, I had dinner at Taian Table and it was definitely one of the most memorable meals I’ve had here. Headed by Chef Stefan Stiller and Chef de Cuisine, Jeno Racz, Taian Table is a private dining restaurant with 20 counter seats and two small tables that can set up to 4. The location is a secret and only revealed after you’ve made a reservation. There is only one menu, which is completely based off the seasonal produce. You can choose from a 14-course (1,288 RMB) or 10-course (988 RMB) meal.
I’d definitely recommend sitting at the counter because it’s fun to be right in the middle of all the action. We started our meal with amuse bouches of mackerel with pickled pineapple relish, turbot in a pea puree with shrimp foam, and a foie gras truffle with sweet wine dressing. Next came the vegetable salad. Pickled vegetables served atop of baba ghanoush with a vanilla dressing. Probably the most intriguing bite of the trio was the tomato-shaped goat cheese. Chef freezes the goat cheese and then dips it in gazpacho, which solidifies against the cold cheese (I’m simplifying the complex process). I would also recommend the gin and tonic, which is served with Hendricks gin and freeze-dried cucumber sorbet. It’s probably the best gin and tonic I’ve ever had and so incredibly refreshing.
The scallop ceviche was one of my favorite dishes. Topped with an oyster and sea urchin, the ceviche was paired with a lime-coconut and chili dressing. I really liked how there is this rich contrast of the spiciness and citrus from the sauce and then a sweetness from the fresh seafood. It was a bite worth savoring. Our next dish was Alaskan king crab mixed with mayonnaise, chopped roses and wasabi tobiko. I was really astounded by the presentation and all the small details in every dish. The green sauce, which is brushed on the bottom, is actually wasabi cream!
The beautiful presentation continued with the 62 degree-cooked onsen egg, which was on top a bed of spinach and next to 42-month old Iberico ham. The “nest” was actually fried spring roll wrappers and was super delicious with the creamy egg. I forgot to take a photo of the following dish, but it was a celeriac and parmesan cream on top of a beet root custard with raspberries and pepper oil.
Continuing on to the seafood courses, we had a sea bass with saffron and pistachio sauce with green and white asparagus. Afterward came a spiced ahi tuna with a grilled artichokes and sun-dried tomato.
Probably one of the more artfully plated courses was the butternut squash gnocchi with black garlic aioli, golden mushrooms and pickled pumpkin. This is not your typical gnocchi since it’s eggless and flourless. Instead the binding agent is made with Japanese yuzu root flour. Next came the burnt cauliflower with brown butter hollandaise and pickled mushrooms. The “dust” you see on the plate is actually grated air-dried beef cheek.
For our palate cleanser, we had a beautiful watermelon sorbet with pickled watermelon, liquid nitrogen crushed mint and olive oil snow. I definitely could have eaten a pint of that watermelon sorbet. The main course was duck served three ways: duck breast, grilled duck heart and foie gras. You can’t really go wrong with the combination of duck and cherries, but Taian table dresses it up with sakura flowers and beet root gelée. My favorite of the three was the duck heart because I enjoyed the smoky charred flavor with the cherry sauce.
After a heavy and gratifying meal, I was grateful that dessert was on the lighter side. Our pre-dessert was umeboshi cream cheese served with meringue pieces that had dried strawberries and matcha powder. Umeboshi is a Japanese plum so there was a slight tartness to the cream cheese and I liked how there was also some crunch from the meringue. The main dessert was a nectarine with homemade almond milk ice cream and almond parfait. The dessert chef, who is from Singapore, really knows her ice cream/sorbets. That homemade almond milk ice cream was seriously one of the best ice creams that I’ve ever had.
Besides the creativity and innovation at Taian Table, I also really appreciated the level of service. With each course, Chef Stefan or Chef Jeno would come and introduce each dish and happily answer any questions that I had. I also like the fact that the menu changes often. I saw that their new menu was just released earlier this month! You can make a reservation online on their website. It’s definitely a meal that you won’t forget!