Michigan’s Best Local Eats: Taste Kitchen’s menu showcases fresh, seasonal dishes

S4ri Kum

ANN ARBOR, MI —Taste Kitchen is a chef-owned Ann Arbor restaurant that prides itself on its small menu that uses fresh and local ingredients.

Owner and chef Danny Van selects menu items based on which ingredients are in season and the freshness of products. Alex Carlucci, general manager, said the menu usually has about eight to 12 appetizers and six to 10 main courses. Certain dishes, like scallops, can usually always be found.

Van opened Taste Kitchen in 2014, with the goal to create fresh, local dishes that combine French culinary techniques with Vietnamese flavors. Some customer favorites include salmon sashimi, shaking beef 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 doing with just a little bit of more focus on what’s local,” Carlucci said.

To keep dishes as fresh as possible, Taste Kitchen has ingredients delivered almost every day.

“We only order as much as we need, and we run out when we run out,” Carlucci said. “There are days where, early in the night, if everyone orders scallops then we’re out of scallops. They know the next day they can come back and get a fresh batch.”

Along with its original menu, the restaurant has recently created a new dining experience called Omakase —which is otherwise known as a Japanese meal that consists of multiple dishes selected by a chef.

In February 2022, Taste Kitchen expanded its operations and doubled its size by taking over the former Elevation Burger space next door.

Chef Tomonori Haruta will operate Omakase in this space and serve guests at its Taste Bar. He will prepare and feature 15 to 18 courses with a seasonal variety of fish flown directly from Japan. This experience will cost $235 per person and is available from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with limited seating.

With everything Taste Kitchen offers, Carlucci said he wants customers to truly feel they are experiencing fine dining while also creating an inviting atmosphere.

“We strive to be as fine dining and upscale without the white gloves,” he said. “We want to be able to invite everyone in to enjoy all of this and then present it in our best way … We want to have everything as elevated as possible and as welcoming as possible.”

Taste Kitchen, 521 E. Liberty St., is open from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. To learn more, visit its website or Facebook page.

Would you like MLive to feature your Ann Arbor-area restaurant in Michigan’s Best Local Eats? Send the details, including business name, address and most popular menu item, to Makayla Coffee at [email protected].


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