The Taian, which has 17 seats, first opened its doors in 2000. Owner and head chef Hitoshi Takahata received his training at Aji-Kiccho, a Shinsaibashi (Osaka) restaurant for 15 years before launching Taian at the age of 34, when he was only 34 years old. He delivers traditional Japanese foods while also infusing aspects of Western cuisine into his menu. Unusually for Japan, there is a large wine selection, with over 200 different wines to choose from. There are also 200 different varieties of Ochoco (sake cups), which the chef and his wife have gathered throughout their trips around Japan.
Taian is tucked away on a quiet side street in the heart of urban Osaka. There was a single table, as well as a dozen chairs arranged around a counter where the cooks were at their stations. The lunch started with a sequence of little bites, including beans with shreds of ginger, a Japanese tomato, an egg in vinegar, a shrimp and abalone liver, and a shrimp and abalone liver salad. Generally speaking, they were acceptable (15/20). Then there had fish soup with a local mushroom, which was delicious. The flavor of the fish was excellent, and the stock was perfectly balanced (15/20). Afterwards, we had sashimi, which consisted of maguro tuna and snapper with wasabi root, wasabi leaves, and cherry blossom salt. The tuna had a velvety texture, the snapper was delectable, and the wasabi was outstanding (16/20).
As of that moment, my wife was serving fish that had been grilled and drizzled with honey and served with a sauce prepared from Japanese cooking apples. Despite the fact that the fish was cooked perfectly, the sauce had a little harshness (17/20). Served on a decorated clay platter set over a hot stone to keep the tiny slices of beef warm, my Matsusaka meat was delicious. On the side, there was a delicious plum sauce to enjoy. Matsusaka beef, along with Kobe and Omi meat, is one of the three most treasured beef producing regions in Japan, with the cattle being meticulously cared for in order to generate a high degree of marbling. However, while Kobe beef is more well-known outside of Japan, Matsusaka beef is every bit as wonderful, and this particular beef was exceptional: enough of marbling for a meltingly delicate sensation, while still tasting unmistakably like meat, which may often be lacking in these highly marbled animals. This was very much the best beef I’ve ever had (at least a 19/20).
Then there were miniature goujons of white fish that had been breaded and deep fried, and they were served with simply a squeeze of lemon for garnish. The coating was great, and the fish was perfectly done (17/20). Immediately after that came bamboo shoots and seaweed, with the bamboo shoots being very sensitive (16/20). At this time, a dish of rice was brought out as the last savoury meal, which was topped with wild veggies and served with pickles and a delicious miso soup to finish.
Dessert consisted of mango jelly with a strawberry sauce, which was laced with black beans from Kyoto and green peas, and the mango had a fantastic flavor (16/20). The meal was excellent. The total cost amounted to 28,182 for two people, which works out to £107 per person, including multiple drinks. The staff was quite kind, despite the fact that only minimal English was spoken here. It was fascinating to see the chefs work at the counter, showcasing their apparently good knife skills, for example, which contributed to the whole experience of the restaurant. It was a very pleasant evening.
Cuisine Type: Japanese
Address: 1-21-2 Shimanochi, Chuo-ku, Osaka, 542-0082, Japan
Phone: +81 6-6120-0790
Website: Taian Official Site
Hours: Closed: Monday, lunch : Tuesday-Sunday
Michelin Stars: 3