Review Score: 85 / 100.
Osaka is home to one of my favorite three Michelin starred restaurants, Koryu, which is relatively affordable compared to equivalent meals in Paris or Tokyo, and serves an immaculately prepared Kaiseki meal in a serene, zen like environment. Taian, another three Michelin starred restaurant located about 10 minutes walk from Shinsaibashi, was definitely a tad more lively albeit with a good vibe to it. It appears to be popular for its char-grilled dishes, particularly the spare ribs marinated with wine, honey and spices. Once I heard that, I was sold!
We arrived at the restaurant on time and were seated by the counter, which had good view of the chef preparing his dishes. The smell of barbecue was definitely present, with an array of meats being prepared with a lightly sweet, smoky scent permeating the space.
Starting off was an array of delicacies, which were mostly quite delicious. Can’t recall them all off the top of my head, but some of my favorites include the seaweed with Mirugai and a citrusy broth, as well as the Yuba dish with wasabi.
Next, we were served a dish of shrimp and corn ball with winter melon, lotus root immersed in a delicate, clear broth. The shrimp and corn ball was brimming with natural sweetness, and had a lovely smooth texture. The winter melon was also well prepared and retained its structural integrity, whilst having a luscious mouth feel to it.
Moving on was a dish of conger eel with a black sesame powder dip, served side by side with Bonito fish and Shoyu sauce. The conger eel was properly cooked and had delicate flavor, which I suppose was to highlight the quality of the eel itself. This was served with a mini radish salad, which was crisp and refreshing. The Bonito was quite a juxtaposition with its intensity especially when paired with the Shoyu sauce, and was extremely flavorful. I would honestly prefer the conger eel served in a broth like what was done at Nihonryori Ryugin, but still it was a decent dish.
The subsequent dish was truly amazing, which was a brilliantly prepared Japanese Wagyu beef cooked gently over the grill. The meat had such a beautiful marbling, with the perfect meat to fat ratio which tasted almost like the pork belly. It was absolutely delicious, and definitely one of the better Wagyu dishes I’ve had thus far, and probably just a scratch better than the Miyazaki beef at Koryu.
My friend had the spare ribs seasoned with red wine, honey and spices, which were steamed prior to being grilled. The result was a sweet, and immensely tender spare rib which falls apart upon the the mere poke of a fork. This is one of Taian’s signature dishes, and I can probably imagine why. Just brilliant.
The next dish was a lightly battered and fried eggplant and white fish. The white fish had a very nice, firm texture to it. The eggplant was also well cooked and somehow retained its crunch, which was very pleasant.
Subsequently, we were served a chilled Japanese pea soup with Sazae shellfish and water lilies. It was quite refreshing, and the soup had an almost chowder-like texture. I particularly enjoyed the crunch from the water lilies.
For the final savoury course, was a classic Ochazuke with a salted Ayu fish, seaweed flakes, pickles, and a broth made from green tea and Dashi. The rice was delicious, and it was a very comforting bowl of food. We were offered seconds, and would had been impolite to say no.
We concluded the meal with an adequately prepared Jelly dish with mango, watermelon, green pea and black beans served with an American cherry sauce. It was a refreshing and sweet end to the meal, although not particularly mind blowing.
A very good meal indeed! For the most part, the dishes were well prepared and delicious, and I definitely had one of the best Wagyu beef dishes thus far. Although if i had to nitpick, I felt that Koryu was a tad more refined and balanced from a course to course perspective. That said, it was certainly more affordable than most three Michelin starred restaurants with a price tag of 14,000 yen, which wouldn’t really break the bank.
Location: 1-21-2 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku, Osaka. +816-6120-0790. Website.