Taian Table

  • Restaurants
  • Western
  • Contemporary/Fusion
Zhenning Lu

It’s been quite the dramatic year for Taian Table. Opening first in April of 2016 on eponymous Taian Lu, the hidden private-dining restaurant garnered much acclaim, rolling through the spring, summer and into autumn when it gained a star in Michelin Guide’s inaugural installment in Mainland China. One day later, for licensing reasons, Taian Table was forced to close. A whirlwind of a beginning.

And yet, you wouldn’t know it when you step into the dining room. Opening a short two months later, the new location, tucked up in Changning district just north of Yanan Lu, is a peaceful retreat from the heaving city of 20 million plus outside.

It feels like coming home – always a relief, even if you didn’t expect it – which is exactly as Chef Stefan Stiller intends, and which makes for an inarguably unique evening of dining. Having lived in Shanghai for over a decade and seemingly unperturbed by the insanity of the last few months, the German chef and his easy, affable manner sets the tone. Dinner party at yours tonight? Yes, please.

It’s an incredibly civilised affair. Yes, it’s costly at nearly 1,400RMB per head for the full 14-course menu, but there’s no sneaky service charge. If you’d rather opt for the edited ten-course menu, feel free – but there’s no insurance against jealousy when the rest of your party digs into their foie gras and lobster. Oh, and those are the choices: 14 or ten courses of the kitchen’s choosing, the menu for which changes every month.

Stiller’s food is flawless. There won’t be a dish you dislike. On one January evening, the meal opens with a plate of beetroots. Small tangy rounds of the tender vegetable arrive atop verdant green waves of sauce from rocket painted onto the plate, plated next to a light sponge cake of beetroot perched on an insanely creamy pillow of unforgettable stracciatella di bufala. An exceptional dish of corn, chorizo and one magnificent seared scallop is topped with etherally thin slices of water chestnuts, which crunch in the most singular way.

Remember parsnips, those old things? Rarely seen, and only at a price, in China, they’re here. Both sweet and sour, the parsnip confit is visually arresting, draped in a pale jade green foam, sprinkled with chilli flakes and showcasing a single egg yolk. Fork-tender loup de mer – European seabass – arrives perfectly crisped on one side, swimming in a ginger beurre blanc and perched on a subtle white bean mash. Exquisite. Then there’s a quivering medallion of seared foie gras on an apple chuntey and a dusting of pale purple red cabbage powder. When is foie gras not delicious? Later comes a puree of Jerusalem artichokes spiked with black truffles, a lobster egg custard with dill oil and caviar and a venison rump with a black and white pepper jus. It’s all fantastic.

But while the food is flawless, it’s not particularly challenging. It will taste delicious, very much so, but not like nothing you’ve ever had before – which may, in fact, be what you’re looking for at close to 1,400RMB. Still, an exceptional venue from Stiller and his team, Taian Table is a unique space and experience that Shanghai is lucky to have.

Venue name: Taian Table
Opening hours: 6pm-midnight (last seating 8pm) Tue-Sat
Metro: Jiangsu Lu
English address: (exact location provided on required reservation; taian-table.com) Zhenning Lu, near Xinzha Lu, Changning district
Chinese address: 长宁区镇宁路, 近新闸路