ANN ARBOR, MI —Taste Kitchen is a chef-owned Ann Arbor restaurant that prides itself on its small menu that uses fresh, local ingredients.
Owner and Chef Danny Van selects menu items based on seasonal ingredients and produce freshness. Alex Carlucci, general manager, said the menu typically has around eight to 12 starters and six to 10 mains. Some dishes, like scallops, can usually always be found.
Van opened Taste Kitchen in 2014, with the aim of creating fresh, local dishes that combine French culinary techniques with Vietnamese flavors. Some customer favorites include salmon sashimi, beef shakes and bouillabaisse.
“There’s a huge French influence in Vietnam, so a lot of the flavors are familiar and true to what (Van has) always grown up focusing a bit more on what’s local,” Carlucci said.
To keep dishes as fresh as possible, Taste Kitchen has ingredients delivered almost daily.
“We only order the amount we need, and run out when we run out,” Carlucci said. “There are days when, early in the evening, if everyone orders scallops, it’s because there are no more scallops. They know the next day they can come back and get a new batch. »
In addition to its quirky menu, the restaurant recently created a new dining experience called Omakase, also known as a multi-course, chef-selected Japanese meal.
In February 2022, Taste Kitchen expanded its operations and doubled in size by taking over the former Elevation Burger space next door.
Chef Tomonori Haruta will operate Omakase in this space and serve guests in his Taste Bar. He will prepare and showcase 15-18 dishes with a seasonal variety of fish straight from Japan. This experience will cost $235 per person and is available from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with limited seating.
With everything Taste Kitchen offers, Carlucci said he wants customers to really feel like they’re tasting fine dining while creating an inviting atmosphere.
“We strive to be as refined and upscale without the white gloves,” he said. “We want to be able to invite everyone to enjoy it all and then present it in our best way… We want everything to be as elevated as possible and as welcoming as possible.”
Taste Kitchen, 521 E. Liberty St., is open 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit their website or Facebook page.
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