A perfect dinner at Stiller’s private new restaurant
By Patsy Yang
German chef Stefan Stiller, who made his name in Shanghai with his up-market Stiller’s restaurant at South Bund, has opened a new restaurant hidden on Tai’an road with a breathtaking concept that pushes the boundaries.
Tai’an Table transformed Stiller from a restaurateur to a full-on impresario.
Burrata, tomato and pistou
“I had this private-dining concept in my mind for quite a long time: a small space, an open kitchen, seats facing the kitchen where guests can view the creating, plating and serving, and a nochoice set menu that is changing on a monthly basis, using seasonal ingredients,” Stiller said. “It’s the project chefs dream about.” Stiller believes Shanghai is ready for this type of concept where the well-traveled locals expect a more private, creative and impressive dining experiences.
The 28-seat space situated on the ground floor of a building on the treelined Tai’an road is a sleek, masculine space with a state-of-the-art kitchen. “I don’t want windows here. nobody is allowed to look inside,” Stiller said.
Stiller hired Hungarian culinary talent Jeno racz who honed his skills at noma in Copenhagen, robuchon in Singapore, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and a molecular gastronomy company Bubble Food in London before moving to Shanghai as Tai’an Table’s chef de cuisine.
“Our menu is an interesting blend between traditional recipes and modern cooking technology,” Stiller said.
Before I started my 10-course gastronomical odyssey, the helpful sommelier recommended the right choice for the menu: a 2013 Dr Wehrheim Weisser Burgunder from Germany.
I was offered a trio of appetizers, including a tiny beetroot and cherry jelly wrapped in celeriac and house-smoked almond cream that was beautifully executed, as was the first course burrata, tomato and arugula pistou.
Though burrata is divine enough to just enjoy without any fancy toppings, this dish was extraordinary. The arugula pistou added fresh flavor to the creamycheese while the squid ink tuile with a lacy texture gave a crisp delight on top of an overall soft and moist texture.
The second course smoked mackerel, potato and horseradish also hit the right notes without giving the impression of striving for anything more.
The lime-cured, lightly smoked mackerel was another perfect spring starter. The mackerel was a little fishy yet balanced with the sweetness from the special potato and mild spice of the horseradish cream.
Chawan mushi, caviar and broccoli coulis was another favorite. The broccoli coulis was layered over the savory steamed egg custards common in Japanese cuisine. The generous spoonful of caviar in the center was a real delight.
Cucumber sorbet before the plate of Wagyu beef was considered to cleanse the palette in the middle of the culinary journey. Stiller turned the preparation into a show by freezing the fresh herbs instantly with dry ice at minus 200 degrees Celsius and smashing it with a mortar in front of me. The mixture of sorbet, pickled cucumbers and iced herbs tasted magical.
Dish after dish was flawless and delicious. The full-blown dining experience ended with equally artistic desserts.
The 14-course menu costs 1,288 yuan and the 10-course is 988 yuan.
Stiller set the standard for immaculate service as well. You pay for the privilege and the amazing experience, right down to the last glass of rare, aged rum the chef might propose. The ultra-chic Duval-Leroy Champagne bar next to the dining room is the right spot to end a beautiful evening.