First thing thing first, I must clarify that Tokyo-Italian cuisine doesn't mean a fusion amalgamation of Japanese and Italian food, but one that embodies authentic Italian cuisine using celebrated fresh produce native to Japan, or "itameshi" as chef-owner Seita Nakahara has termed it.
After working his way through kitchens in Tuscany, Sicily, Piedmont and Singapore's Enoteca L'Operetta, he finally opened his own restaurant, Terra.
We descended upon the intimate space located at Tras Street all ready to be wowed by his culinary creations, and we were wowed indeed!
A quick glance at Terra's menu showed that it is rather concise with only a few options for each category of Starter ($20-$28), Pasta ($24-$38), Main ($36-$52) and Cheese & Dessert ($10-$14), but sufficiently varied to cater different preferences.
Executive Set Lunch (3-course $42 / 4-course $58) and Seita's Omakase ($128) are also available.
The 5-course Degustation Menu ($98) which we had, showcases some of Chef Seita's personal favorite dishes, including his homemade bottarga, cured in-house using only fresh mullet roe which is prized for its refined ocean-salty flavor.
Chef Seita's relations with farmers and fishermen which were established during his one-year sabbatical travel in the different regions of Japan ensured direct connection to the best of ingredients that come straight to his restaurant's table.
Ooh, just look at that Scallop from Salfutu ($20)! So big, plump, fresh and utterly splendid in a warm gratin with mushroom and herbal butter.
Next dish of Pasta with Sea Urchin from Hokkaido ($38) was just as superbly done. Interestingly, the spaghetti is laboriously hand-made using an ancient-looking tool, resulting in a thicker-than-usual texture. Cooked to al-dente perfection, each bite was a creamy, flavorsome party exploding with uni and bottarga. We only wished there were bigger chunks of sea urchin for greater textural and aesthetic satisfaction.
It turned out that the best is yet to come until the Tajima Wagyu ($52) came into sight and into our mouths.
Not all Wagyu are created equal, and discerning gourmands would know that true Kobe beef can only come from purebred Tajima cattle born and raised in Japan's Hyogo prefecture (of which Kobe is the capital city) that achieve an A5 ranking. Anything of a lower grade is labeled Tajima beef, but still without dispute, the ingredient itself is already comparatively superior to most.
Wonderfully grilled, the excellent pink meat glistening with fatty streaks was all of melting, velvety richness, coupled with a lovely char on the outside. I don't think it needed any of the accompanying sauce to further enhance its flavor, but this is coming from someone who likes to enjoy her beef without any condiments. Delicious in either way nevertheless, this Japanese beef is a must-order!
Our degustation menu experience ended with Shine Muscat Grapes & Sorbet, simple yet nothing short of deep enjoyment repleting with wondrous sweetness. The best grapes I've ever tasted!
Considering the quality of the fare we tried, this is affordable luxury which we do not have to break too deeply into the wallet for. Terra is certainly a fine restaurant worth bookmarking down for a commendable meal.
Address: 54 Tras Street, Singapore 078993
Contact: +65 6221 5159
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-2pm & 6.30-pm-10pm / Sat 6.30pm-11pm / Closed on Sundays
Prices stated are subject to 10% service charge and 7% GST.