When one thinks of the best food cities in Japan, cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido would definitely pop into mind. However, did you know that’s not all Japan has to offer for fresh; there’s another hidden gem, or in other words, a “less mainstream” city – Niigata City.
Terra, an Italian restaurant opened and helmed by Japanese Chef Seita Nakahara, created a special menu for the Niigata Food and Flower Fair in Singapore. Chef Nakahara was the previous executive chef of Enoteca L’Opretta, a famous Italian restaurant, for close to 20 years! So I was really looking forward to trying the menu, which is a delightful fusion between the Japanese and Italian cuisine; I was also especially looking forward to the pasta.
The interior of the place which was actually designed and done up by the Chef Nakahara! When he shared the renovation process done up, I could tell he’s very happy with the brick wall you see on the right haha.
Now, why should we look at Niigata as a serious and worthy contender as one of Japan’s best cities for food? Well, that is because Niigata is actually a major domestic agricultural center. This also means that food in Niigata will be fresher than Tokyo for example. With warm summers and light snowfall despite their cold winters, combined with the nutrient rich environment in the Japan Sea and their advanced cultivation technology, these factors contribute to Niigata’s bountiful crop harvest every year, along with an abundant source of fish and other seafood.
And these ingredients are the stars in Terra’s special Niigata menu! Alright, time for the food pictures 😉
Appetiser #1: Carrot Mousse with Buratta and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
I thought this was a very interesting dish because I most certainly have not had an appetiser dish like this. The carrot mousse was fresh and sweet, and the Buratta (cheese) will definitely please cheese lovers.
Appetiser #2: Botan Ebi Carpaccio with Edible Flower Kakinomoto and Preserve Lemon Dressing
Oh, this was definitely one of my favourite dishes. In fact, I really can’t decide if I like this more than the pasta dish or the pasta dish more than this. Both are on par with each other I suppose. The bottom is the botan ebi (raw shrimp) that was SO FRESH and SO SWEET, oh goodness me. The purple “things” are flower petals, edible flower petals guys!!! Now I can say that I’ve eaten a flower before hahaha. I’ve no idea what the olive green things covering the ebi are though. All I know is that this is such a gloriously beautiful dish, the combination of everything, especially with that sauce you see, BLEW MY MIND. Pretty sure I had a silly (but very blissful) smile on my face after I was done with this dish.
Main: Crispy Scale Amadai in Turnip and Edaname Soup
Amadai is tilefish, and did you know that the scales (what you see covering the meat of the fish above) can be eaten? The soup was very flavourful, every mouthful was like an explosion of flavours, which went really well with the fish, and need I say more about the scallop? I love scallops!
Pasta: Pappardelle Zuwai Kani with Dried Tomato Belly and Grilled Leek
Ahhh the pasta dish. I know the crab is supposed to be the star ingredient here but the pasta really stole the limelight. BEST PASTA I’VE HAD IN MY LIFE. EVER. The texture was amazinggggg. I’ve had handmade pasta before, but none that tasted like this! I NEED to have this pasta again!
Okay about the star ingredient now haha. The crab is slightly different from the crabs we usually have here in Singapore, in a good way though! It tastes better in fact. The only thing is that it’s much smaller than the crabs in Singapore. If it was as big then, crab dreams do come true.
Dessert: Assorted Persimmon Torta & Gelato
The dessert was a new experience too! It’s persimmon cheesecake with persimmon gelato. This is an interesting dish because persimmon is not a commonly used ingredient in desserts. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it being used in desserts at all. The Niigata persimmon is different from the persimmons we buy from markets/supermarkets btw, because those are China persimmons. Niigata’s persimmons are far more sweeter and the texture/firmness feels more whole? Wholesome? If you get what I mean haha.
I’m usually not the biggest fan of cheesecakes because most of the time, the cheese is not well done and you get gelak (sick of it) pretty fast. But not this one! I loved this cheesecake, best cheesecake I’ve had without a doubt. The cheesecake alone was very well done, just right, not too heavy nor too light. It was perfect. Every bite was a such a treat. And when you combine it together with the persimmon, every bite is a genius combination between sweet and fresh, keeping in mind that there is cheese in the mix! And sweet and fresh are adjectives you do not usually associate with cheese.
We made two Japanese friends! The lady lives in Singapore while the guy flew into Singapore from Niigata. He exchanged contacts with the boy because he offered to bring us around when we visit Niigata. 🙂
Thank you Yohei for the invitation again, and thank you Chef Nakahara for such a beautiful meal!
Terra’s Special Niigata Menu ($128++) will only be available till Dec 2, 2015.
Read more about Niigata’s agricultural produce and their Food and Flower Fair in Singapore here.
Terra is located at 54 Tras Street.
Tel: 6221 5159