Sunday, 10 August 2014

Japanese Italian

A large portion of tuna over cold pasta which was delicious
Last night YTSL and I checked out a restaurant we'd heard about called Sagrantino.

It's opened by a Japanese chef who cooks Italian food called Takashi Yasuda and practically every night after he closes the restaurant he heads over to Lan Kwai Fong to have his own meal and sake at Sake Bar Ginn.

Yasuda is an expert when it comes to Italian cuisine, and earlier this year took a month off to travel around Italy and learn more dishes. Apparently he's completely fluent in Italian too.

Yellow tail carpaccio was on the bland side
However, YTSL wasn't sure about this place -- she looked up on Open Rice that most reviews gave the restaurant thumbs down. But over a month ago I met a Japanese magazine editor here who said one of her favourite places was Sagrantino, because of the interesting combination of Italian cuisine with Japanese ingredients.

So we decided to give it a shot and on a Saturday evening it wasn't too full, but already bustling. Behind our table was a group of Japanese, who were regulars as Takashi went out to check out on them.

The menu looked interesting, with the typical beef carpaccio, pasta a la vongole, caprese salad, lasagne and tiramisu.

But there were some other intriguing items like octopus salad, pasta with soft shell crab in garlic, and pasta with a cream-based sauce of avocado and egg.

For starters we split the yellow tail carpaccio (HK$118) that came garnished with finely diced peppers and salad leaves. It looked good, but taste-wise was quite bland. The slices of fish were very thick for carpaccio, but perhaps this was the Japanese style? We weren't quite sure.

But our skepticism was put to rest with our mains. I ordered the zuke cold pasta (HK$128), featuring al dente angel hair pasta with thick cubes of soy-sauce marinated tuna topped with slices of dried seaweed.

Spaghetti with a creamy sea urchin sauce
It was really refreshing and filling! We had read in the online reviews that the portions here were small, but this was quite large. However it tasted so good, I kept eating it and eating it...

YTSL asked for the echino (HK$148), spaghetti with a creamy sea urchin sauce. A taste of it revealed a strong prevalence of cheese, but strong hints of uni which made the dish very umami flavoured. This dish too was very rich, though YTSL plowed through the pasta too, savouring each bite with a glass of prosecco.

Staff are friendly and polite, and Takashi came by to check on us, perhaps nervous about what we thought of his food.

Around 9pm a waitress came by to tell us the kitchen was taking last orders. So early? On a Saturday night? We jokingly wondered of Yasuda wanted to close up shop earlier and enjoy the rest of the evening over to Sake Bar Ginn?

I'd be game to try some of his other dishes to see what they tasted like, but we don't know when we'll hit this place again in the near future...

Sagrantino
5/F, The Loop
33 Wellington Street
Central
2521 5188


4 comments:

  1. I guess I was skeptical of Japanese Italian food that I'd have to pay restaurant prices for since I'm pretty happy with Japanese Italian (fast) food at fast food prices at chains like Te and Saizeriya. But the uni spaghetti at Sagrantino was pretty special and your cold tuna pasta did look pretty good. Takashi did good! :b

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it! Made for a change from the usual straight-forward Italian... don't get me started on NY Italian! Anyway we will have a report on KFC soon on this blog! Stay tuned!

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  2. looks tasty...however, could the chef make a play on lighter flavor vs. intense flavor of his dishes. Japanese influenced dishes tend to go either intense or very light/bland. I found chinese (especially the locusts) like intense tastes. I found myself a split personality in terms of tastes, either very light (little/no seasoning) to taste the natural flavor or intense flavors of dishes...

    I sometimes feel most HKers doesn't have appreciation of italian food (or mexican) in HK for that matter.

    btw, the bill comes to 400 HKD for 2?

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    1. Hi nulle -- the bill was over HK$500 for two including a glass of prosecco...

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