Taian Table has been on the pages of several Shanghai and international publications in the past few months. The restaurant, which was originally located on Tai’an Road, had to be closed down the day after receiving one Michelin star in the first ever, controversial, Shanghai Michelin Guide.
Chef Stefan Stiller’s drive has remained strong in the past months, which led him to rapidly re-open Taian Table in the Jing’an District. Once you get past the creepy 400m walk down the Zhenning alley without being discouraged by the typical Shanghai end-of-day sidewalk trash, you’ll end up at a chic complex. Ring the doorbell and you’ll be welcomed by kind waiters that will guide you to one of the 20 seats framing the open kitchen, where chefs and sous-chefs are busy prepping and plating the food.
The ambience is sleek and contemporary, with impressive high ceilings and drop-down, triangular deco chandeliers. Following the current fine dining trends, the table setting is quite minimal and you’ll be enjoying your meal on asymmetrical leather place mats. I especially appreciated the kitchen-front counter setting as it encourages interaction with the chefs, and will make any diner completely comfortable while dining alone.
The menu is seasonal and frequently changes according to the best produce available and the new inspirations of the chefs. Since their opening in April 2016, Taian Table has gone through several menu cycles. They are currently offering their sixth menu, therefore you will likely not experience the same food I had during my visit. The bottom line is that you’ll be enjoying a 14 course menu at RMB 1388 (or ten course at RMB 1088) which you can upgrade by adding wine pairings for an extra RMB 738.
What strikes me most about the food is that all the dishes’ ingredients come together in a balanced, elegant yet completely original way. The Lentil Salad, which was one of the simplest dishes, was also one of my favorites, with distinct flavors of smokey beef cheek, champignon and wasabi – ever had lentils with wasabi? Probably not, and you should fix that. The same wasabi mayonnaise was used to compliment a delicate Carabinero Pawn Carpaccio. All seafood lovers know you should never waste the head of a fresh prawn. That’s why Taian Table presents it nicely baked and crispy alongside the carpaccio.
Another winner was the Charred Sardine. Cooked in a Japanese charcoal oven, it comes with black garlic sauce and a perfectly seasoned sauce vierge with tomatoes and lime. From the seafood selection I also appreciated the Turbot Fillet Bouillabaisse, which has the right amount of umami and spicy flavors.
What could be considered the least fancy dish, the Burnt Onion, was actually my absolute favorite. The caramelisation of the onions perfectly came together with the sweetness and umami of parmesan cheese, as well as complimenting the earthiness of a light kohlrabi mousse. The vinegar preserved shimeji mushrooms added a very welcome touch of acidity.
The meat dishes impressed less than the seafood ones, though the advanced cooking techniques allow for interesting flavors and textures. The slow cooked beef short rib is brined for six hours and then cooked for 65 to 68 hours, making this piece of beef juicy and tender. The Pigeon Breast comes with a delicious sauce made of its own innards and a delicate artichoke cream.
Desserts were delicious but seemed quite oversized for a 14 course meal. The chocolate dessert featured three different elements, my favorite being the stunning chocolate sorbet made of only three simple ingredients: cocoa powder, water and salt. The strawberry dessert was aromatised with thyme – a pleasant surprise as thyme and berries is one of my favorite flavor combinations.
During my visit, the wine pairing featured six glasses of fine quality wine, my favorite being an elegant white Crozes-Hermitage, which paired beautifully with the acidity of the bouillabaisse course. Overall I thought that having two sweet wines and only one red wine out of six glasses was slightly unbalanced and would suggest at least two red wines. The chocolate dessert would have paired amazingly with a Côtes du Rhône.
Compared to other restaurants of similar caliber, Taian Table’s modern, sophisticated and sleek fine dining experience that will leave you craving for more.
Address: Shanghai – Lane 465 Zhenning Lu, No 161, Bldg 1, Room 101-102, near Wulumuqi Bei Lu – 镇宁路465弄161号1号楼101-102室, 近乌鲁木齐北路