Italian/Japanese fusion might sound odd on paper, but aside from the fact that Italian restaurants are actually quite popular in Japan, Shiso Tree Cafe is amazing. All you need is one bite of their food to put any doubts to bed.
I tried a couple of starters: the tera-goma tebasaki (perfectly cooked chicken wings with a crunchy exterior and an addictively sweet glaze) and the tarutaru fries (amazing fries with homemade tartar sauce for dipping). But their pasta is the real reason to come here.
I had the nori tsukudani: “braised nori sauce, onsen tamago, ikura, scallops, mentsuyu.”
It was so good, with the vibrant Japanese flavours making it really stand out from your average bowl of pasta.
The braised nori sauce tasted exactly how you’d hope it would: like nori, but in sauce form. There’s something a bit odd (and very delightful) about taking such a familiar flavour and putting it in a new context.
And the onsen tamago (which is kind of like a silkier version of a poached egg, with a white that’s just barely set) was the perfect compliment. It essentially liquefies into the pasta, coating the noodles and giving them an eggy richness.
The sweet, perfectly-cooked scallops match really well with the seaweed-infused sauce, and the greens add crunchy pops of freshness. The pasta itself is, as you’d hope, perfectly al dente.
It’s certainly an unusual bowl of pasta, but it’s one where all of the flavours have been so perfectly considered. It’s amazing.
I finished with the chestnut creme brulee, which was a fairly ingenious spin on a classic dessert; the rich chestnut flavour complimented the custard perfectly, and the crackily torched sugar on top was as satisfying as ever.