Tai Pan is a Marbella institution that has been wowing lovers of Asian cuisine at the Puente Romano since 1982. Now beautifully redecorated, this ambient restaurant continues to offer a Chinese-Asian fine dining experience like no other.

Tai Pan is a Chinese restaurant, but not as we know it. From the ambience to the service and indeed the cuisine, this is bona fide fine dining, explaining why Tai Pan continues to be a revered name on the Golden Mile. It started when owner Lincoln moved to Marbella in the early eighties and struggled to find an Asian restaurant that could meet his standards as a diner. “Everything I tried was disappointing from the perspective of someone who knows the cuisine well. So I started my own restaurant,” says the man who has made it a success for more than 35 years.

The secret ingredient for this success is passion, for not only is Lincoln involved in a menu that evolves with the seasons and the shifts in culinary trends, but he actively manages every element of the restaurant on a daily basis – and it shows in the smooth, seamless service, the evocative décor and the delicacies offered.

A New Classic

Tai Pan is a new classic because this iconic restaurant has recently undergone a renovation that has seen it redecorated by Jean-Pierre Martel, who is responsible for much of the interior design at the Puente Romano and Marbella Club, as well as such projects as the Ritz in Madrid. With his unmistakable flair, Jean-Pierre has nailed it – creating a look that is fully up-to-date, refined, endowed with subtle oriental touches and still one hundred per cent Tai Pan. Indeed, those who used to enjoy the Tai Pan tradition of sampling one of the restaurant’s signature Polynesian cocktails at the cosy bar before moving on to the dining room, will encounter the same classic feel, but within a setting that is also thoroughly modernised and fresh.

If the elegant décor and the soft lighting set the tone, accompanied by attentive service, then the food is the main course, so to speak. Put differently, it is the star of the show, an experience that proves Chinese food can be as distant from your local Chinese take-away as Spanish fine dining is from a rowdy tapas bar. Tai Pan specialises in beautifully prepared and presented but above all delicious Chinese and Asian dishes that you can enjoy within a stylish, refined setting.

The core of the food to be enjoyed at Tai Pan builds upon Chinese cuisine, and in particular the region of Szechuan, though it follows the cultural interaction with the Far East and South East Asia to also offer delicious elements from the Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian kitchens. These are highly compatible with Chinese dishes as they often come from a common cultural tradition, so you can easily mix and match dishes

We tried some of the classic cocktails that are a pre-dinner tradition at Tai Pan – a Mai Tai and a Porn Star – before moving on to a full-bodied excellent bottle of Aalto 2016 Crianza from Ribera del Duero. Those who think only beer is suited to Chinese cuisine are sadly mistaken, and Tai Pan’s extensive wine cellar forms part of the décor in a beautifully lit glass bodega. The entrées we enjoyed and indeed shared, included Peking duck – a great starter to share – fresh spring rolls, a variety of dumplings filled with meat, vegetable shoots and prawns, as well as chicken satay and succulent, fall-off-the-bone spare ribs.

These may sound like typical dishes, but it is in the quality, preparation and presentation that make them stand out, as do the main courses. The steamed sea bass with ginger seasoning is a case in point, as it is a refined dish presented in suitable fashion, while the pan-fried prawns with chilli sauce in the Szechuan style, the spicy chicken Kung Bo and the lamb with spring onion and ginger offer classic Asian flavours with an added level of sophistication.

The desserts represent a blend of European and Asian options, such as vodka sorbet and ice cream with walnuts or Chinese ones like lychees and fried apple with syrup. All maintain the highest levels of preparation you’re likely to find in an Asian restaurant in this region, and while Lincoln and his family also manage the popular sister restaurants of Sukhothai and Thai Gallery, it is Tai Pan that remains a true classic of Chinese-Asian fine dining in Marbella.


Avda. Principe Alfonso Hohenlohe, Puente Romano Hotel, Marbella. Tel: 952 777 893.