Years after having dined at Enoteca L’Operetta, I renewed my acquaintance with Chef Seita Nakahara, who has left the restaurant to open Terra @ Tras Street. (I also recognized the service staff at Terra, formerly from L’Operetta.)
Salfutu scallops ($20)
I thought I knew what to expect because Japanese chefs cooking Italian food don’t stray away from tradition, and don’t have much room for creativity; I predicted the food would be good but not stellar. I was both right and wrong at the same time. While there is not much innovation, the spectacular dishes represent the best of their categories.
For instance, the Tajima wagyu beef ($52, 200g) isn’t innovative, but it may be the best steak in Singapore. The ingredient itself is already superior, marbled with regular streaks of fat, soft with a bite, not greasy. And the cooking is also excellent: wonderfully grainy and char on the outside to provide a variation in texture and taste. The steak is delicious both on its own or with the special, tangy sauce, although I’d suggest that you order the sauce to be put by the side so you can have the best of both worlds. The steak is like that song: “unforgettable, that’s what you are.” A MUST ORDER.
The uni pasta ($38) also represents the best in its class. Many restaurants claim to hand-make this or that when they use electrical appliances. For example, those restauants make dough by hand and pass it through machines to make pasta. On the other hand, Terra impressed me very much with their sincerity and toil. They take 5 hours to make sorbet by hand, and they use an ancient pasta tool that looks like a rocking horse. You sit, and squeeze your dough into pasta by turning the apparatus manually.
Their effort is our gain. The spaghetti is thicker than normal, and has a nice bite. The yuzu undercuts the fishiness of sea urchin, although I suggest there should be chunks of uni on top to provide an aesthetic appeal to the dish. I would like a lot of uni in uni pasta.
In the end, the decor mirrors the food at Terra. The decor is a pastiche of what other restaurants are known for: the wall of greens at May May, the rustic bread sack from Cure, the metal bull heads on the wall (from Wolf, maybe), the bistro panel of glass (from a French restaurant), etc.
Like the decor, the food will evoke a bout of deja vu, but derivation is not a bad thing if it is done well. Trying Chef Seita’s food again after all these years, his culinary prowess has improved by leaps. Where his food used to be homely and charming, it is now graceful and confident like the flight of a hummingbird.
A 5-course degustation starts from $98++.
54 Tras Street, Singapore 078993
T: +65 6221 5159
M-F 12pm-2.30pm, M-Sat 6.30pm-11pm, closed Sun
Price: 6.5/10 (expensive but worth it)
Service: NA (tasting)
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
This is an invited tasting. Thanks, Karen and Sharon.