(EDIT: 23rd Dec 2016 Terra has been awarded one Michelin star just barely a year after its opening.)
This week, I was invited to the soft launch of Terra on 54 Tras Street by Chef Seita Nakamura, who’d come up with a Tokyo-Italianmenu to tantalise the tastebuds. Japanese and Italian food are two of my favourite cuisines in the world, so I was excited to see how these could blend creatively together. Chef Seita, who’d been based both in Tokyo and Italy for some time, had constructed a menu focused on fresh Japanese ingredients finished off in a contemporary Italian style.
Overall: ★★★★☆ A refreshing blend of two beloved cuisines.
We had the Degustation Menu ($98++) but here I’ll include the a la carte prices for those of you who want to get a feel of the price range. A la carte portions are slightly bigger.
We started the meal off with a starter of Scallop from Salfutu ($20).
The scallops were huge, succulent and very fresh. This dish was done in a gratin style with some homemade mushroom herb butter and fresh seasonal vegetables. Although the herb butter was delicious and wonderful with bread, I found the sauce overwhelmed the scallops slightly. But overall, because the ingredients used were so fresh, it was still an appetising start to the meal.
Next, the Sea Urchin from Hokkaido ($38) with Spaghetti, Yuzu and Bottarga.
Bottarga, (pictured on the right), is is the Italian name for a delicacy of salted, cured fish roe, typically of the grey mullet. Chef Seita prepares his over three weeks and cures it by hand before grating it over the pasta for a delicious, flavourful sauce. The combination of the heavier uni and Bottarga flavours with the sharp citrus tang of the yuzu really made this spaghetti truly one-of-a-kind. The Tokyo-Italian style of pasta is very much like the popular Japanese versions of pasta that are generally less heavy and with more focus on finer ingredients. All the pasta is hand made and prepared fresh everyday. Another show of dedication to freshness of ingredients used in the dishes.
And now, for my favourite dish — the Chargrilled Tajima Wagyu with Roasted Vegetable and Red Wine Sauce ($58).
This was a piece of meat perfectly done. Chef Seita selected a wagyu shoulder for us for the day, which was exceptional. The natural flavour of the meat was accentuated, not overpowered, by the light horseradish sauce and the assorted root vegetables added colour and texture to an already wonderful dish. Delightful!
And as there’s always room for dessert, we were presented with a large bunch of these prized Shine Muscats which went into our grape sorbet. Shine Muscats are well known for its fresh, delicate flavour and are famous for their consistent quality and beautiful appearance. The most perfect, unscratched bunches can go for more than $1000 each!
The sorbet was wonderfully tart, sweet and made with only the best of seasonal fruits from Japan. The dessert menu changes with what’s in season, so expect a surprise when you go down.
Overall, I must say I really enjoyed Chef Seita’s conception of the fusion of two cuisines. The traditional flavours of Italian dishes were retained but were handled with a lighter touch so the freshness of the ingredients really shines through. Look out, guys. Tokyo-Italian might just be here to stay.
Terra by Seita