Japanese-Italian, a wondrous flavor collision
Claim to fame: Chilled capellini with Hokkaido uni and fermented yuzu dressing
Reason to go: The lack of menu means leaving it all in the hands of a very competent chef
To look out for: Seasonal Japanese ingredients and fresh, homemade pastas
Years after honing his skills at Italian restaurants across Italy, Japan and Singapore, Seita Nakahara has made our city his adoptive home and invented a brand of clean-tasting Japanese-Italian cuisine at Terra, a tiny eatery where looking for a menu is unnecessary.
The raison d’être at diminutive Terra is Nakahara’s relentless focus on pristine Japanese ingredients, presented as part of the Japanese chef’s seasonally inspired omakase menu. His most popular pasta course is a chilled capellini with slivers of raw Hokkaido sea urchin, it arrives in a tangle topped with pearls of tonburi (Mountain caviar), bathed in an invigorating elixir of fermented yuzu dressing, arguably the city’s best rendition of sea urchin pasta. The same Hokkaido delicacy occasionally finds its way onto a bruschetta, dressed in nothing more than an invigorating drizzle of fermented lemon dressing. When fresh European porcinis are in season, the fungi are gently sautéed with house-made tagliolini and served with shaved, 24 month-aged Parmesan cheese, simple indeed but also simply stunning. His take on risotto is uniquely Nakahara, cooked in vegetable stock with five different types of Japanese herbs, including perilla leaves, it’s flanked by chunks of plump Hokkaido abalone. For mains, Nakahara keeps his plates minimally embellished – case in point: a slab of Japanese-farmed Iberico loin from Spain with nothing more than an accompanying stalk of chargrilled matsutake mushroom. Obviously, Nakahara’s approach leans gently toward the Italian, his cuisine is always light, clean and uncluttered, allowing his ethereal, Japanese ingredients to take center stage. At dinner, a choice of three omakase menus is available, naturally the priciest menu boasts the most premium ingredients.
Tucked away in a shop house at Tras Street, Terra offers limited seating of not more than 35 in a rather cramped dining room. Like its menu, its wine list leans towards the Italian.