Veal ravioli with freshly shaved white truffles
Wanting to catch up with our friends who had lived in Japan and recommended many of the places we visited while we were there on our recent trip, we organised dinner with them at Otto Ristorante at the Red Dot Museum on Maxwell Road.
In the mood for simple pasta, we were wowed into selecting the gourmet degustation menu for three and one at our table selected three dishes from the white truffle menu. I was in a very indecisive mood and wanted the benefit of small portions of more dishes.
The menu actually draws a lot of inspiration from Japanese ingredients, including sea urchin and scallops – and I started with the carpaccio of Hokkaido scallops. The scallop itself was wonderfully fresh and paper thin, but the flavours for me left me a little flat. I didn’t know what the black substance was that was sprinkled over the scallops, first thinking it was caviar, and later finding out it was dehydrated olives. I think I would have preferred it to be caviar, the flavours were all a bit too delicate for me.
Pan fried foie gras with caramelised onion jam and brioche
Next course was an excellent pan-fried foie gras with delicious onion jam and brioche. Classic flavours. Classic dish. Superb.
I’ve heard that the pastas at Otto are great and I have to agree with everyone on this. I had a veal ravioli, which was my clear favourite for the night – over the foie gras, suckling pig and a sneaky forkful of my mate’s truffle risotto, which are some of favourite dishes ever. The veal was melt-in-the-mouth tender, the pasta wafer thin and perfectly al dente, and we had the additional extravagance of having freshly shaved white truffles over them. YUM.
My friend who didn’t want veal asked to change the pasta for the spaghetti with sea urchin and grey mullet battarga, which is grey mullet roe that has been cured and dried with sea salt and then waxed to prevent further drying. This dish tasted to me like the essence of Japan – the stronger battarga hit your palette with an explosion followed by the delicate but unique uni flavour that seemed to silkily coat your tongue.
Next dish was steamed sea bass with basil infused fava beans in a white wine emulsion. This seemed a little flat for me, but only because the previous dish (and my forkfulls from my friends’ dishes) were so strongly flavoured. The fish was cooked to perfection and I think the three flavours worked very well together.
Final dish was the signature crispy suckling pig, with black locust honey and aged balsamic vinegar. Perhaps it was because I was already full but for some reason this dish didn’t work for me. The suckling pug was very well done – tender meat with crispy skin, not too much fat, but the balsamic vinegar seemed almost too strong and tangy, yet I know you need something to cut through the fattiness of the suckling pig. It was served on top of a bed of baby spinach leaves, which I also didn’t think worked with the slow cooked meat. Perhaps something more peppery like rocket ? I’m not sure.
Dessert was a warm chocolate cake / fondant with a vanilla bean ice-cream. Always a favourite, lots of molten fondant inside. Can’t go wrong 🙂
It certainly wasn’t a cheap night, but the service was excellent, the wine list solid (although we weren’t told that the bottle of ripassa we started with was the last one they had … until we ordered a second bottle) and the food really very well done. I would happily go to Otto next time I have a simple craving for pasta.
My only complaint is their atrociously over-designed website.
28 Maxwell Road, #01-02
Red Dot Traffic Building
Tel: 6227 6819
Open lunch and dinner Mon-Fri
Dinner only Sat