Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shanghai - Issimo by Cuomo at JIA Shanghai

It wasn't too long ago where access to good produce is not a given in China, even in the international city of Shanghai. But as the city opens up its doors to world class operators, fine food using quality produce from other lands far and wide is almost taken for granted now.

Salvatore Cuomo's second restaurant in Shanghai located in the trendily homey JIA Shanghai was fine testament, using traditional but simple methods to bring out the flavours of the ingredients. If not for my native Shanghai pal, I would have missed out since I try not to eat in hotel F&B outlets if I have company unless I am pressed for time or if they are truly exceptional.

Our starters of the shrimp and scallop skewers accompanied with spicy pesto were simply marinated and rightly so since they were some of the freshest and most succulent. About 80% cooked so the natural juices still intact, but nicely seared on the outside to deliver a pleasant smoky flavour. Garnished with julienned celery for crunch and topped off with a spicy pesto, for a little bit of bite.

The beef carpaccio was also very decent. While I found it a little too "young", and didn't melt in the mouth quickly enough, it was nevertheless very tasty. The fresh arugula and parmagianno played their roles to perfection, in support of the main character but delivering great tastes in themselves as well, making it a aged-old classic combination.
My personal favourite of the evening, beyond catching up with an old friend, was the Wagyu stuffed ravioli. Just the sound of it was making my mouth water - I love fresh ingredients in my raviolis and tortellinis and avoid them otherwise. Thankfully, we were relatively early for dinner since there was only one single portion left for the day! Apologies to the other diners who tried to order it afterwards but we were definitely not sorry! The smooth Wagyu bound into a mini burger and stuffed into the al dente ravioli skin and tossed in a beefy tomato sauce, was delicious hearty goodness. I could definitely eat this all day.

If you are dining in an Italian restaurant for the first time and Tiramisu is on the menu, order it. Every restaurant's rendition is different and in this case, a pleasant surprise. The traditional thing served in a mini casserole was delightful and for me, happily heavy on the mascarpone. I do detest it if I cannot even get enough of a hint or if the texture is too light because the proportion of cream outweighs the cheese. The bonus of crushed ice, drizzled with a great espresso as accompaniment was a perfect touch to wash down the casserole with. The crispy thin wafers were superfluous in what was already a great dessert but yummy on their own so no complaints there!

931 West Nanjing Road
(Entrance on Taixing Road)
Shanghai 200041
+86-21 6287 9009 (reservations essential)

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