With several omakase options around Singapore, it can be a little tough to figure out which ones are worth your hard-earned money. Even worse, there’s an unfortunate stereotype that you have to spend the entire content of your wallet to enjoy the best omakase experience.
Well, we’ve already written about a handful of affordable omakase places on our sunny island, and now you can add Monte Risaia to the list. Although their dinner omakase doesn’t technically fall in the realm of wallet-friendly—even though their set lunch omakase pasta course only runs for S$39++—it is still a reasonable tag of S$138++.
It’s a six-course menu that comes with three antipasti, one pasta course, one meat course, and one dessert, where all dishes are available on rotational basis. Helmed by Chef Tazio Yamada, the food is a beautiful synthesis of Italian and Japanese cuisines, with Chef Yamada’s culinary journey starting with his time as a kitchen helper at an Italian restaurant in Tokyo’s Shibuya town.
After a four-year stint, Chef Yamada joined Aponte Italian restaurant in Ebisu town as a junior cook. From there, he worked his way up to Head Chef and today, he has his own restaurant along Duxton Road, in Singapore.
The restaurant is rather tiny, but remains cosy, with only 12 seats available at full capacity. Of course, now with social distancing measures in place, diners have to be spaced out and that means an even cosier maximum capacity of about six to 10 people at a time, depending on group size.
We were treated to the S$138++ dinner omakase set, which started off with Prawn, Tuna And Scallop In Frutti di Mare Sauce Topped With Ikura (salmon roe). This colourful dish is meant to be devoured in a single mouthful and worked its magic in opening our appetites with its bright, zesty and refreshing flavours.
The seafood was, no doubt, sweet, but what I noticed the most was the unique frutti di mare sauce which gave this single-spoon serving some depth and savouriness.
Next up was a decadent and rich Uni Chawanmushi (steamed egg custard with sea urchin). I know some people who are absolutely in love with uni, but I have yet to master its complex and briny profile. This one, however, was quite palatable, as the uni carried a subtle saltiness which in turn elevated the sweetness of the egg custard.
The textures were silky and smooth, and it was an effortless task to polish this antipasti course in mere minutes.
I’m oddly a fan of oven-baked dishes that are wrapped in parchment paper and this one was no different. It was hard to hold myself back from slurping up the Oven Baked Anago In Dashi Stock Drizzled With Anchovy Butter Sauce greedily.
If you didn’t already know, anago is saltwater eel, a cousin of unagi (freshwater eel). Before this meal, I’d never eaten anago, only having enjoyed the pleasurable fattiness of unagi. The biggest difference between the two is that anago is less rich and oily than unagi, which makes it ideal for seafood dishes that don’t require grilling (which also explains why unagi is almost always grilled).
The puddle of dashi and anchovy butter was sublime, evoking warm, fuzzy feelings within. The anago was fleshy and soft, although noticeably not as buttery as unagi. I imagined myself to be enjoying this dish during a wintery evening in Kyoto; one can only dream.
It was time for an Italian presentation and boy, did it make an impression. Their Beef Tongue With Italian Porcini With Tagliatelle Enhanced With Summer Truffles was blanketed in a distinguishable perfume of truffles.
I enjoyed the gratifying chew of the beef tongue, especially when combined with the al dente texture of the tagliatelle. My dining partner expressed that he could’ve easily enjoyed a double portion of this, and I shared his sentiment.
Our last savoury course was the meat course, and just based on what Chef Yamada presented to us in its raw form, we were already impatient to try (let’s all take a second to adore the exquisite marbling on that hunk of wagyu).
Their Grilled Wagyu, Époisses French Cheese And Truffle Marsala Italian Wine Sauce was unlike any other wagyu dish I’d enjoyed. For most, the beef is the highlight of the plate—but not here. The amalgamation of succulent wagyu and Époisses French cheese was outstanding, both in texture and taste.
The cheese was a pungent number, so perhaps those who make an effort to stay away from blue cheese might not enjoy this as much. But when eaten together with the melt-in-your-mouth wagyu, it delivered a flavour profile that was nutty, sharp, and rich all at once.
It’s difficult to encapsulate its unique flavour in just one word; you’ll have to make the trip to Monte Risaia to try it for yourself.
We arrived at the final course, dessert. There was no stereotypical matcha-flavoured dessert here; instead, we were gifted with Mascarpone Cheese Served With Layers Of Mango And Blueberries Topped With Caramelised Gelato Drizzled With Frangelico Liqueur. After all the rich, complex flavours we’d revelled in, this was a welcome palate cleanser.
What I enjoyed most about this was that it wasn’t overly sweet, and there was sufficient bite from the blueberries to combat the creaminess of mascarpone cheese. The Frangelico liqueur was certainly a nice touch, as it enhanced the caramel notes of the gelato.
I’ve had my fair share of omakase—which I feel very blessed and grateful for—and this one is definitely one I would recommend. Yes, it is slightly steep, but for what you’re getting, it’s an experience worthy of a birthday treat, anniversary or even a fancy night out.
The food here is straightforward, but the flavours manage to reach a level of sophistication that you won’t get just anywhere. It was a great date night for me that evening, and I’m pretty sure it will be for you and your beau too.
Expected Damage: S$39++ – S$138++ per pax
Price: $ $ $
Our Rating: 5 / 5
59 Duxton Road, Singapore 089523
59 Duxton Road, Singapore 089523