January 26, 2024

Veneto to Campania

Pin It

Many years ago my friend Felix suggested that I check out Il Ristorante Luca Fantin the next time I'm in Tokyo, having been impressed with the chef's cuisine. Fast forward to 2024 and... I still haven't paid Luca Fantin and his team a visit. The chef himself fully understands the reason: many of us prioritize Japanese cuisine whenever we are in Japan, and restaurants serving other cuisines just get pushed down on the long list.

So when I got an invitation for lunch today for the collaboration between Bvlgari Il Ristorante Luca Fantin and Estro, I didn't hesitate to say "Yes". I wouldn't have to give up a precious slot in Tokyo to get a taste, and I can finally see what the hubbub a few years ago was about.

The menu starts with Il mare d'inverno, which isn't a dish but a song by Loredana Berté. I guess it's an all-seafood menu today, then...

We started with a glass of ColVento Vermentino di Sardegna Brut, which was easy to drink.


Burrata and smoked sardine tartlet - topped with caviar, of course...

Asparagus tartlet taco - with diced asparagus and asparagus purée. This was pretty nice with crunchy bits, and a hint of some interesting spices.

Beetroot crisp - YAY, BEETROOT! With vegetable purée inside and topped with Mediterranean herbs.

Cucumber and green apple drink -

Aorika | cauliflower, black truffle, by Bulgari Il Ristorante Luca Fantin - no sooner had the dish been put in front of me than the image of Osteria Francescana's iconic Oops! I dropped the lemon tart surfaced in my mind.

The bigfin reef squid (アオリイカ) was "cut in a Japanese style", which I took to mean that it was sliced and scored to tenderize it. It came with both a cauliflower purée as well as thin slices of raw cauliflower, with chiffonade of black truffle just underneath the sliced cauliflower. Accompanied by a splatter of squid ink sauce. This was certainly tasty and on point, but no surprises here.

Langoustine | olive oil sabayon, lemon, by Estro - the flavors of the Norwegian langoustine were very nice, and we had both an EVOO zabaglione as well as a zucchini purée.

Zucchini trombeta came on the side, hollowed out and stuffed with diced zucchini.

Spaghetti | sea urchin, tomato, by Bulgari Il Ristorante Luca Fantin - this is, apparently, a signature dish of Luca Fantin. We have, by now, seen sea urchin pasta on plenty of menus, so I was hoping for some magic here. There's a cream made of Japanese "amai (甘い) tomatoes", which were first dried with garlic and herbs then made into a paste. This cream was then combined with a separate cream made with sea urchin to become the sauce for the spaghetti. Then some lemon zest is added on top along with tongues of raw sea urchin.

I didn't get it. Yes, I tasted some tomato flavors along with some acidity, but it was much too subtle. I didn't find anything special about this dish... Dont get me wrong... the dish was tasty and there was nothing wrong with the execution. It would have tasted wonderful to maybe 90% of the people who dine at the restaurant. But I have an incredibly jaded palate, and perhaps my expectations were too high, but here was nothing here that made my eyes open wide and made me want to jump with joy. This was just too "ordinary" for me. Maybe if I had visited the restaurant seven or eight years ago and tasted it then, my feelings would have been different.

Gnocchetti | honey peas, salted fish, by Estro - these little balls were made not with potato but with ricotta, giving them a really light and fluffy texture. Flavored with zucchini and honey peas, they are accompanied by fresh, crunchy peas. As a topping we had "fish ham" which had a tad of saltiness from curing, and also provided some light smoky flavors. I thought this complemented the sweet and green flavors of the vegetables very well.

Luca came to pour the seafood sauce made with clams, mussels, and scallops for the next dish. And like an obedient dog, I promptly picked up my phone to film this...

Amadai | hamaguri shell, pescatore sauce, by Bulgari Il Ristorante Luca Fantin - tilefish (甘鯛) can be very delicious when done well, and I could find no fault in the execution here.

The shellfish sauce was pretty nice, and the fish was served on top of small discs of potatoes to elevate it above the sauce. There were strips of julienned clams (蛤) dressed with Italian parsley, but I didn't quite get it. I found it interesting, though, that Luca's been in Japan long enough to use the word paseri (パセリ) instead of parsley.

Latte | in different textures, by Bulgari Il Ristorante Luca Fantin - this was an extra dessert, and finally we have a winner from team Tokyo. The different textures of milk - served chilled - ranges from frozen powder which melted instantly as it touched the tongue to something a little more solid, as we go through snow, foam, gelato, and semifreddo. Topped with a rice tuile garnished with some shaved orange zest. Each spoonful started out ethereal, and quickly gives way to richness. The presence of pinenuts was a nice surprise.

Oh, this works really well with a cup of coffee. Maybe a double espresso.

Cioccolato, by Estro - desserts here have definitely reached a higher level with the arrival of Fabio, and we all loved this new version of the chocolate dessert made with Madong chocolate. Warm chocolate cake with chocolate cream were rich without being overpoweringly sweet, but the key to it all was the sorbet made with the fruit of the cacao - adding its fruity acidity into the mix. The chocolate crisp was pretty nice, too!

Sweet ending : just two today, which was perfectly fine.

Chocolate with raspberry

Lemon tart

This was a nice lunch, and afforded me a break away from the cleaning and unpacking I had been doing since yesterday. Very grateful for the kind invitation from the chefs, Giona, and PR8.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map