Basta Pasta ~ Orderinny

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Basta Pasta

In honor of Xinghong's graduation, we hit Basta Pasta for some Jap-Italian (Italianese, Jatalian) food to witness what the Japanese can do to classic Italian cuisine. While pan-asian fusion food is commonplace (foie gras wonton anyone?) and championed by many influential celebrity chefs in the city, Basta Pasta is quite the anomaly as it injects asian sensibilities into western cuisines without killing the italianness of its food. What do I mean? While you do see some Japanese ingredients in certain menu items and the portions are on the light side, most of the dishes remain true to form and very classically italian.
We started the meal with breadsticks, followed by bruschetta with a cheese spread before they finally brought out the bread basket stocked with 4 types of bread. Yup, 3 bread-related courses before the meal began in earnest. Luckily the entrees weren't too big.
I ordered spaghetti with tobiko roe and shiso leaf, the most blatantly Japanese inspired dish on the menu, and liked the buttery flavor of the sauce spiked with the slightly sharp taste of shiso. I also liked the texture of the roe with the firm pasta, although the roe for some reason was kind of sweet. I liked Gerri's spicy spaghetti dish too. The jalapeno taste was mild as you put it in your mouth but intensifies at the back of your mouth as you chew and swallow the noodles. Ruoying's roast duck was nicely rare and juicy and I liked XH's seabass too, although I can't remember too much about it. So entrees were generally well done.
Desserts were also a mix of classic Italian and Asian inspired. I liked XH's hefty slice of tiramisu , generously spiked with coffee and liqeur, a lot. Gerri's coconut panna cotta was so cool and smooth it slides right into your mouth, but we felt that the cantaloupe soup that the panna cotta was swimming in was a little too flavorful and distracted our attention from the mild coconut flavor. I had houji tea icecream, which tastes much like usual green tea icecream, but with a denser and smokier flavor.
We really liked the food and had fun watching the chefs cook in the open-concept kitchen. What we didn't really understand about the restaurant though was the space, which felt very make-shift. With the pictures on the walls and the exposed ceiling, we felt as though the restaurant space could have been an art gallery in the day and converted into the dining room in the evenings by pulling a couple of table and chairs together. Still, it was a comfortable enough room and a great meal to round off a school year.

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