Monte Risaia at 59 Duxton Road offers several Japanese and Italian Omakase menus. We love both these cuisines and decided to try it out. We also like counter dining where you can see your meal being prepared and this restaurant has counter dining which can seat about 12 (fewer with safe-distancing).
The interior was dark and modern with a black and wood colour scheme and the chefs were dressed in black: Picture lots of activity behind the counter and bumbling cauldrons of pasta water. We went for the Omakase dinner course with three appetisers, a pasta and a meat dish for $98 per person. There was also a seasonal Omakase menu which was at a higher price of $138 (everything up to the chef). Other available menus were an Omakase pasta dinner priced at $68 with three appetisers and two types of pasta and an Omakase “main” dinner at $80 with three appetisers and two meat courses.
Our first course was a totally Italian complimentary starter platter of bread, olives, olive oil and Parma ham. It was really good – high-quality olive oil and Parma ham. Really delicious and a great way to start our meal.
This was followed by the three appetisers. The first was a Japanese style hamachi sashimi/carpaccio topped with Ikura. It was good fresh fish in a fusiony dressing. This was followed by an uni (sea urchin) chawanmushi which was deliciously creamy and subtle. The final appetiser was seafood in a clear plain Japanese dashi broth. It came beautifully wrapped in parchment paper in the style of an Italian seafood pasta but inside was the fresh seafood in the clear and tasty dashi.
Next to come was the pasta course. It sounded simple : spaghetti in tomato sauce – but what a spaghetti in tomato sauce! We are big fans of Japanese style pasta and this lived up to our fairly high expectations. The chef, who hails from Tokyo, used to work in an Italian restaurant there. He made the tomato sauce in front of us using his various dashi broths and the nicely al-dente spaghetti (bubbling in said cauldron in front of us) was then added to that. The pasta was then topped with shiso instead of traditional Italian basil. We are still dreaming about it now and it’s been a few weeks.
The final course was a Wagyu steak course. This was beautifully cooked, sliced and presented with tomatoes, endive and a very good horseradish sauce which had something crunchy in it (the way Tsukune does sometimes). If I had to guess, which I didn’t, I would have said that this was quite likely chopped cartilage. We didn’t ask – just in case it put off the more squeamish amongst us.
Dessert and Drinks
The meal ended with a custardy burnt caramel dessert with sea salt on the side. It came in a little espresso cup and was a perfect end to the meal.
We had our meal with a bottle of sake. To this day, we are undecided if wine or sake goes better with an Italian-Japanese meal. The only way to find out is to try the different permutations again in future – a good reason to return.
Overall: The service was very friendly and it was enjoyable to watch the chefs creating each beautiful plate.
Favourite dish: Pasta. Will have to return for the Omakase pasta menu.
Price : $$$ (Expensive but not exorbitant for Omakase)
*Our meal was $98 pp. Price of sake: about $120 for the bottle we chose.