Pazzi Isshokenmei recently opened its doors at H Queen’s, a building in Central that already houses two Japanese fusion restaurants, both a blend of Japanese and French cuisines. The newest addition to the Japanese fusion line-up veers away from French culinary inspirations and, instead, heads to Italy, with a combination of Japanese and Italian flavours gracing the menu.
Opened by Philip Chow, a 20-year veteran in the F&B industry who was most recently part of SEVVA, the restaurant also features a soon-to-open bar and cigar lounge. The name Pazzi Isshokenmei is quite a mouthful, a combination of the Italian word pazzi, which translates to “crazy”, and isshokenmei, which means something that’s hard to achieve and steeped in history and tradition in Japan.
Our meal began with a bowl of truffled edamame accompanied by crunchy bread wafers and a creamy pickle and jalapeño dipping sauce. It was the first time we’ve had truffle shaved on top of edamame, and it was surprisingly delicious and very indulgent. Akin to a bread basket, these dishes are a complimentary welcome from the restaurant.
The beef tataki ($198) is dressed in fried shallot and wasabi ponzu, and each raw beef slice is rolled around a grilled segment of green onion. Despite the thickness of the raw beef, we were surprised by how tender the meat was. However, it was underseasoned, despite us rolling it around in the dressing beforehand.
The prosciutto di Parma ($288) is served over smoky scamorza cheese alongside a small pitcher of honey, which adds sweet contrast to the savoury ham and cheese flavours.
The Tokyo burrata ($198) is a busy combination of ingredients, ranging from burrata, to Japanese peach, to tomato, accompanied by a variety of dressings. We enjoyed the addition of peach jam to the mix, as well as the crispy cheese wafers and aromatic shiso.
We sampled a trio of maki (cut rolls), including California roll ($188), queen crab roll ($188) with soft-shell crab and spicy tuna roll ($228). Although dressed with pretty edible flowers, the construction of the rolls was on the sloppy side, with some collapsing in on themselves. Of the three, our favourite was the soft-shell crab roll for its flavour and deliciously crunchy textural contrast. The rolls are served without soy sauce, and we had to ask for some to add more savouriness.
The miso crab tagliolini ($468) is a creamy blend of sweet crabmeat and briny miso, tossed with fresh pasta. We wished there was greater flavour contrast to cut through the richness of the sauce.
The A4 sirloin ($1,080 for 150g) uses buttery, marbled beef from Miyazaki, making for a great sharing dish, with the beef pre-cut into cubes. Sprinkled with garlic flakes, the incredibly indulgent beef had great flavour but could have benefited from a touch more salt. The sweet, tart marinated cherry tomatoes alongside make for great palate cleansers.
The hero of the meal was the red prawn udon ($488), a decadent plate of gooey noodles tossed in a vibrantly flavourful tomato sauce accented with fresh shiso. The fat, slippery noodles soak up all the umami flavours of the red prawns.
The Dover sole ($588) is rolled and pan-seared, topped with filo pastry and salmon roe. The texture of the fish was unlike any Dover sole we’ve ever tasted – the meat was very chewy and had a bouncy texture. We did enjoy the sake lemon sauce.
The uni tagliatelle ($888 for 100g) had a mountain of sea urchin on top and was deliciously creamy, although we couldn’t taste the spicy mentaiko that was also supposed to be in the sauce. Although we liked the flavour of the pasta and sauce, the sea urchin itself had a slightly bitter, alkaline aftertaste.
The treasure chest that is the handroll trolley adds a whimsical touch to the dining experience. Served tableside, guests have a choice of three types of fillings, ranging from sea urchin ($218), to otoro ($188), to avocado ($98). We went for the sea urchin and enjoyed watching the rolls being prepped before our eyes.
The green tea tiramisu is a delicious blend of Japanese and Italian flavours, but our favourite dessert was the seasonal peach with soft-serve ice cream. Soft-serve aficionados might pick up on the silky texture of the ice cream as being from popular Japanese ice-cream shop i CREMERiA, and the creamy concoction is served up with the brand’s signature Hokkaido Shiroi Koibito biscuit topping. The desserts are priced at $68 at lunch and $168 at dinner.
Although we weren’t “pazzi” about the food, we think this restaurant offers a decent attempt at a Japanese-Italian menu. Perhaps our expectations were elevated owing to the relatively high price of each dish, which made us expect more finesse and imaginative pairings than we actually received.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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