Hours: [Tue-Sat] 6pm-12am (closed on Mon & Sun)
Visited on: Apr 2016
Rumor has it that Stefan Stiller’s dream has always been to have a small restaurant with an open kitchen cooking seasonal cuisine, and it seems like the recently-opened Tai’an Table is exactly that – a completely open kitchen, 20 bar seats, and one seasonal menu that changes monthly. No address, no phone number, just a reservation website. You go?
Stiller is cooking in the kitchen himself, but has also hired Jeno Racz from Hungary to be his chef de cuisine. Racz used to work at Noma in Copenhagen, Robuchon in Singapore, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London, and more recently at a molecular gastronomy catering company called Bubble Food.
Tai’an Table offers one no-choice menu changing on a monthly basis. The 10-course menu goes for 988 RMB, and the 14-course is 1288 RMB. Vegetarian and food allergies can be accommodated if discussed 2 days in advance.
First came the amuse bouche. What looks like a cherry on the left is in fact beetroot wrapping celeriac and house-smoked almond cream, with a little bit of raspberry vinegar to elevate the flavor. On the right is eggplant cooked in dashi, topped with wasabi mayonnaise and pickled lotus root.
Course #1: burrata, tomato, arugula pistou, topped with a sheet of squid ink crisp.
Course #2: mackerel, smoke, potato, horseradish. Pretty presentation, though the mackerel was quite a bit too salty and fishy for us.
Course #3: chawan mushi, caviar, broccoli coulis. The chawan mushi (Japanese-style steamed egg custard) and broccoli coulis were barely salted, combining well with the caviar.
Course #4: lobster, white asparagus, morels.
Course #5: octopus, quinoa, dill mayo. The octopus has been slow-cooked for 24 hours, topping the quinoa flavored with garlic and chili oil. The dill oil used in the mayo is also squeezed in-house, and apparently 1 kg of dill only produces 170g of dill oil…
Course #6: parsley & garlic porridge, frog legs. Beautiful green color and lovely texture from the multi-grains. Frog legs fried crispy on the outside and tender within. Charming dish.
Course #7: bone marrow, oyster cream, herb salad.
Course #8: pigeon consomme, vegetables, kombu. Racz’s chef at Robuchon Singapore was Japanese, and the influence is shown in this dish with the Japanese dashi broth. On an unrelated note, the tiny, perfectly round vegetables reminded me of my days interning at Jean Georges…
Course #9: foie gras, carrot & ginger, green tomato.
Course #10: pork belly, tea sauce, chorizo, endives. The sauce is made from Lapsang Souchong, the heady smoky flavor combining interestingly with the succulent pork belly. The endive on the side was delicious too.
Course #11: cucumber sorbet, pickled cucumber, herb-snow. The chef used liquid nitrogen to freeze mixed herbs (dill, chervil, verbana, edible flowers to name a few), and sprinkles the ground bits on top of the sorbet and pickled cucumber. A lovely palate cleanser.
Course #12: wagyu beef MS 7+, red cabbage “ketchup”.
Course #13: “umeboshi” cream cheese, matcha, dried strawberries. To have umeboshi with cream cheese is a first for me, and I was quite intrigued by this sour and savory dessert. Also, I’m not usually a fan of meringue, but with a sprinkling of dried strawberries there were super yum.
Course #14: chocolate & passion-fruit. What looks like chocolate sorbet is in fact gelato made from deep-roasted cocoa and no diary, the flavor is intense and unfamiliar. Very pleasant with the refreshing acidity of passion fruit.
With a 14-course meal, of course not everything is going hit the spot, but it was an interesting procession of up and down. Racz told us that the menu we had was “pretty basic”, and that he plans to put a lot more creative things on the table in the future. With a menu that changes monthly, there sure are a lot to look forward to.
On another note, there are also two 4-seat booths at Tai’an Table should you want something more private.