Helmed by Chef Masahiro Takada, who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in both Italy and Japan, La Luna Rossa (meaning “the red moon”) in Tokyo, Japan is exporting the concept of itameshi into Singapore. “Ita” refers to “Italy,” and “meshi” has evolved to mean infusing Japanese flavors into Italian food.
The decor at the entrance of homely bricked wall contrasts strongly with the metallic contemporary chic of the interior. The restaurant has a very clean, sophisticated look. The area that looks like a bar in the photo is actually a kitchen, an open kitchen where you can see Chef Takada cooking. But the ventilation is good so you won’t leave the restaurant smelling of food. If you make reservations for a large group, you get to sit at a round table by the french window, overlooking the crowd walking up and down along Orchard Road. If not, you get a view of the tentacular glass structure which Singapore Actually is so fascinated with.
There are three set lunch menus (11am-4pm): $25++, $38++, $60++. The three main differences between the $25 and $38 sets are (1) starter: there is a choice of salad in $38 set; (2) mains: $25 offers pasta and $38, meat or pasta; (3) desserts: additional $5 for desserts for $25 set. The $60 set has an extra course: oysters as starters, pasta AND meat, and a dessert. Since carbs are evil according to my expanding pant size, I went for the $38++ (coming up to $45 in the end).
The gratis bread came out smelling so fragrant and freshly baked! Although the taste was bland and it was nothing to boast about, there are at least varieties: focaccia, a slice of french loaf, and keropok with curry powder, a bit like murukku.
For the salad, I chose roast wagyu beef salad with intingolo sauce. The wagyu beef is wrapped in a block of salt and slowly roasted till medium rare. What is intingolo sauce? I dunno. Google tells me it just means “sauce” or “gravy.” But I couldn’t taste the sauce, too light, probably a bit of olive oil with a citrus, so the dish was carried off solely by its ingredients consisting thin slices of wagyu, greens, carrot, cucumber, onion and pomegranate. It was ok, not particularly titillating but not bad too.
Braised cross-cut veal shank with gremolada (spelling?) sauce. The braise sauce is tomatoy and gremolata sauce is finely minced parsley, garlic and lemon zest, so the dish gave me a very Mexican (sans the spiciness) feel: tomatoy and sourly refreshing. Like the salad, I thought this dish was competent but not mindblowing. The veal was tender but didn’t have the melt-in-mouth quality; the sauce was fun but not especially original; the gratin was firm and light but gratin should be rich; and the vegetables, gratin and veal didn’t gel together as a dish.
Chocolate Terrine with Orange Sorbet. Terrine is usually finely minced meat packed in a block, almost like a pate. So it was very awesome to have chocolate terrine or just a block of chocolate with nuts. The milk chocolate here was very delicious and I relished every last bite of it. If you get bored of eating chocolate, switch to the orange sorbet which will cleanse and refresh your palate, arousing in you the desire to eat the chocolate. The combination is especially smart because Chef Takada uses milk chocolate and sorbet (ice, without milk) so that the dessert will not be jerlat (excessive). The plating was gorgeous too. This dish reminds me that in the past, we used to eat orange chocolate during Chinese New Year.
Tea or coffee comes with the set.
Service: I was honestly surprised by the service. A new restaurant usually needs to iron out issues with the service. I came in without any expectation or any prior background knowledge so I was very pleasantly surprised to find the service to be top-notched and friendly. The servers often asked about the food. They introduced the food so you know that the restaurant is pegging itself to be first class.
But I was also confused because there was no table cloth and table cloth and padded tables are signs of a first rate restaurant. The contemporary decor also signals that the restaurant is more casual. What I mean to say is if the restaurant pegs itself to be first-rate, the decor and ambience can be improved. But if the restaurant wants to be more casual, then the price of the meals should be reduced.
The ambience, service and decor are satisfactory but there are other restaurants which would give you more bang for your bucks, give you mouth-orgasm food. That being said, seeing Chef Takada taking his work very seriously and working very hard, perhaps I couldn’t understand the Japanese sensibilities (cultural difference?) of the too-light food. Or perhaps Chef Takada isn’t familiar with the food ingredients in Singapore. Or perhaps–I read the Press Release on Chef’s Takada’s specialties after visiting the restaurant–I didn’t taste any of his specialties. Since this is a new restaurant, the lunch menu can at least include one or two of the chef’s specialties to draw the crowd. I wish I could have tasted the specialties but as of now, the food is rated competent and regular but nothing distinguished.
La Luna Rossa
6 Scotts Road
#02-01 Scotts Square
T: 6636 2951/ 6636 2952
Rating: 3.000/5 stars