Sunday, January 24, 2010

Otto - Pasta Dinner

I went to Otto to try their pasta with a few fellow bloggers and foodies. The restaurant is spacious and pleasant, although unfortunately the lighting is a bit too dim to take proper pictures (reason why I am not including any pictures with this post). Otto's forte is their pasta. so we decided to just stick to that, and order a few dishes and share them amongst us.
The Chef introduced us to the special of the day, which was a "vongole with saffron emulsion". We decided to order the recommendation, as well as the "sea urchin spaghetti", "veal ravioli", "tagliatelle with wagyu beef and foie gras ragout" and "linguine with Boston lobster".

Overall, we were quite unimpressed with all the pasta dishes that we tried. The best on was probably the linguine with boston lobster, which was served with a very rich tomato sauce (although on the menu it says 'light tomato gravy'). I personally do prefer the tomato to just "stain" the lobster rather than be the main body of the sauce as in this case, but that's just a matter of personal preference.

And from the lobster pasta, we only go downhill. The second best was the ravioli with veal. The ravioli was actually well executed, with a thin dough and well textured veal inside. The sauce was ok, but the whole dish was ruined by a generous dash of truffle oil. And as you can imagine, that's all it tasted of.

Third best was the tagliatelle with ragout. Once again, it could have been slightly better if it wasn't "enriched" by another dash of the all time favorite truffle oil (which we decided to nominate the ketchup of fine dining), which perhaps was required due to the fact that there was nothing in the sauce to bind the flavors together. It tasted like tagliatelle simply sauteed with cubes of wagyu and foie gras, but all the flavors were isolated, rather than smoothly brought together by some stock based sauce. It really seemed like a failed attempt to create a sauce for the local Asian taste.

4th on my list was the day's special. The vongole was a weird variety of elongated shellfish with a spike o red roe. It didn't look anything like vongole to me. Besides that, the spaghetti were composed of a cream based sauce, long green beans, completely covered in chopped raw red peppers. I am not sure why they did that, since raw red peppers, cream and clams on pasta don't seem like the best combination to me. I don't think this would go down too well back in Italy :) Anyway, my principle remains: no cream on pasta, but even worse when it's done on seafood! As expected, no seafood flavor at all could be tasted in that rich, creamy sauce.

Finally, the "sea urchin spaghetti with bottarga" was probably the worst out of all, to the extent that if I was given a full serving I would have returned it to the kitchen. What went wrong with that? Quite a few things:
- No taste of sea urchin or trace of it could be spotted in that pasta.
- The bottarga was just there to show that it was there, however not adding any value to the taste.
- The sauce was again cream based rather than olive oil based, suffocating any real flavor that might have been there, including the traces of bottarga
- I could only taste (and smell) 2 things from this pasta. Garlic and sweet. The sweetness was not originated from the sea urchin, it really tasted like added sugar. The garlic was so overwhelming it could be smelt from the distance, and that should never be the case with pasta served in a restaurant. It can be understandable at "Spageddies", but not in a proper Italian restaurant.

Overall a disappointment from a food perspective, although the evening was incredibly enjoyable due to the good company and great conversation about food & life. Luckily, we then rescued our palate by going to Tippling Club for some out of this world desserts!


M. said...

welcome back to blogging!

amiscell said...


yixiaooo said...

ooo what a delightfully biting read.

welcome back, antonio.

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