Last Updated: November 8, 2015
Tras Street is fast becoming my new favourite place to drink and dine. I was therefore delighted to get a sneaky peak at the latest addition to the neighbourhood – Terra by Seita. Championing a fusion of Japanese and Italian cuisine, this is a unique concept that initially left me confused. How on earth could the regional simplicity of Italian cooking be paired with a cuisine famed for sushi, sashimi and soba? I was about to find out…
The unorthodox Japanese/Italian fusion begins to make sense once you’ve met the chef behind it all – Seita Nakahara. Originally hailing from Tokyo, he honed his cooking skills throughout the kitchens of Italy before finally settling back in Singapore in 2010. He is young, creative and clearly has lots of fresh ideas. After speaking with Seita and reading the menu, my confusion was rapidly turning into incredulous cries of ‘why isn’t there more restaurants doing this?!”
The interior of Terra is welcoming, cosy and cool. Each wall is plastered with something photo worthy, be it terracotta bricks, silver cow heads, or live plants – hello Instagram, I’ve got some awesome back drops for you!
Despite the fact it’s relatively small inside, the team have made great use of space and packed in cute private dining spaces, an informal dining area with high tables and bar stools, as well as smaller tables in front of the open kitchen which are perfect for lunch. I like.
There are two ways to dine here, a la carte or omakase style. Italian or Japanese, naturally. We were eating at lunch and opted for the 4 course omakase lunch set ($58), a cheaper option is also available for $42, whilst the special Seita Omakase is priced at $128. For those wanting to pair their food with a drink, the in-house sommelier is super friendly with a range of Italian wines and saki at your disposal.
Upon being seated freshly baked warm bread was brought to the table, presented in cute rustic cloth bags and accompanied by house made porcini mushroom butter. So far, so Italian. The bread was good, though the butter is better. Mixed with plenty of rich, earthy porcini, this was akin to smearing truffle on toast. I would have been satisfied with a nosebag full of just this.
Next up was our complimentary amuse bouche. Changing on a daily basis what you get is entirely down to the particular mood of Nakahara. We were treated to a tuna filled Japanese bell pepper with burrata and prosciutto. The pepper was fruity and hot, the creamy burrata and tuna played the role of cooling antidote, whilst the prosciutto added a touch of salty seasoning. What a great mouthful to get the tastebuds going.
Scallop from Salfutu ($20)
For our starter we were presented with a dish containing two large oven baked scallops, Japanese mushrooms and asparagus, all covered with a delicious garlic gratin. The scallops were cooked very well, they were large, sweet and incredibly fresh. The tomato sauce base had real depth of flavour, it was rich, sweet and what a treat to dip in the leftover bread upon finishing the scallops. This was a clever combination, Japanese ingredients paired with Italian flavours and techniques. I would go back just for this dish alone.
Sea Urchin from Hokkaido ($38)
In true Italian style, a pasta course was up next and contained not one but two gastronomic gems. The pasta sauce comprised of yuzu, sea urchin AND Bottarga. The fish roe had been prepared in house and had been drying for the past three weeks. Sea urchin had been flown in fresh from Hokkaido. Pasta had been made that very same day in house, from scratch. You were lucky I was able to hold myself back for long enough to take a picture.
The pasta was really quite light, Nakahara had clearly drawn on his Japanese roots and produced something that is half way between soba and traditional spaghetti. Each strand had been coated in the unmistakably fishy richness of urchin and roe, and tiny slithers of each were also nestled within. This is one dish that is sure to become a house favourite.
Tajima Wagyu ($52)
Slicing through this perfectly formed piece of wagyu shoulder was like slicing through butter. Oh. My. Goodness. Lacking the fattiness of other cuts of beef, though not missing the flavour, this was a resounding triumph. My beef was nicely seared on the outside and beautifully pink in the middle, just the way I like it. It melted in the mouth and was full of the buttery richness associated with wagyu.
Accompanied by chervil root, sweet Italian inspired ratatouille-esque vegetables and a lively red wine sauce, all cut through the richness of the meat and sent our tastebuds into overdrive. Wow. The chervil root was a nice touch, lighter than a potato and possessing a subtle taste of turnip, it was a welcome substitution to the oft used root vegetable.
Shain Muscat ($12)
We ended on a refreshing and palate cleansing note with a scoop of grape sorbet accompanied by huge shain muscat (Japanese grapes). This was a sweet, light way to end a delicious meal.
Following this epic feast I am pleased to confirm that Japanese Italian fusion cuisine is surprising, unusual, intriguing… I could go on. This is one lunch I will not forget in a hurry.
Terra is a great setting for a date, girlie night out, or a light lunch. I recommend.
Expected damage: $50 – $150++ per pax
Terra by Seita: 54 Tras St, Singapore, 078993 | Tel: 6221 5159 | Website
Opening Hours: Lunch, Mon to Sat 12:00 – ( Last Order 14:00) / Dinner, Mon to Sat 18:00 – (Last Order 22:00)