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    Food Review: What We Enjoyed At Taverna By The Tokyo Restaurant @ The Gardens Mall


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    What do you get when you mix Italian and Japanese cuisine? Well, that’s for your palette to find out!

    Taverna by The Tokyo Restaurant – The Gardens Mall’s newest option for Italian cuisine combined with Japanese ingredients and inspirations – is situated on the third floor of ISETAN. It had its official opening last year, and has since been serving up creative pasta dishes and other creations in a polished environment manned by an efficient staff.

    While it might at first appear as if this part of the mall is a little dreary, the venue promises to be a sunny, warm location with lots of natural light. Deep emerald green accents are used throughout the interior as well as pendant lighting, mosaic tiles, and bistro chairs for added charm.

    Recently, we had the opportunity to preview some of the exquisite fusion cuisine dishes served at Taverna, and to be frank, we loved everything! Also, if you’re someone who isn’t particularly fond of Japanese food (like some of us here), we guarantee that you’ll have a one-of-a-kind culinary experience. So, buckle up and get ready to experience Taverna from our point of view.


    Starting off the culinary journey, we had two different appetisers.

    The first was an absolutely perfect dish, The Saba Potato – Sicilian Way. This dish comes with a mackerel that’s covered in salted butter, which gave that extra zing; and the Japanese Saba potato was delightfully thin, crispy and sweet. We really loved the combination of Italian parsley, butter, and lemon skin that complemented each other perfectly and gave a unique taste.

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    Next up was the White Asparagus Milanese. Asparagus is typically green and slender, but these were white and larger in size. The flavour of the white asparagus was delicate and slightly bittersweet – almost bland, even – and the addition of the sunny side up egg added creaminess to the dish. To enjoy this dish to its fullest, you’ll need to chop the asparagus into bite-sized pieces, crack the yolk, and mix everything. The dish was made even more luxurious by the browned butter on the side, and the salty capers added even more flavour.


    Moving on to the mains, which also came in two choices.

    First, was Taverna’s Combo Chicken Cacciatore, and this dish will definitely blow your mind. The chicken was filled with roasted capsicum and served with a zesty Puglia tomato sauce. The stuffed chicken is topped with fresh basil sprigs and served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes for additional flavour. It’s warming, filling, and hearty. We made sure to swipe the plate clean!

    It’s a sin if you leave an Italian restaurant without trying their pastas, as Italians are well-known for making delicious and incredible pastas. So, at Taverna, the pastas are a must-have. One pasta dish we definitely recommend is the Squid Ink Tagliolini Aglio Olio. The squid ink pasta is combined with fleshy Japanese oysters in clam stock. Italian parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, yuzu pepper, and garlic chilli oil are added for a variety of flavours in every bite. Ink squid pasta has an exquisite but slightly fishy taste that most people find hard to take. To enjoy it, the right flavour is needed so that the fishy taste isn’t so overwhelming. We really enjoyed this pasta, even the pasta itself was so flavourful. So, imagine combining it with fresh oysters –  simply delightful!

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    Two courses down, the waiter popped a question: “Are you ready for desserts?” This was music to our ears! In case you were wondering, The Tokyo Restaurant is well-known for their Basque cheesecakes. We were, however, presented with different treats than what we initially anticipated.

    We had not one, not two, but three rich and super-delicious desserts. The first was the The Tokyo Pudding. We have to admit that, as someone with a sweet tooth, we were on cloud nine because every bite was exquisite. One look at it, you’d think that a pudding topped with whipped cream and burnt caramel sauce would be a sugar rush, but this one was actually light; even people who aren’t really into dessert will love it. This dish has a strong but sweet burnt aroma that makes every mouthful great.

    The second dessert was rather unique. Called Asakusa Cassata, this variation on the Sicilian cake is mixed with nuts, dried fruits, caramelized hazelnuts, and honey syrup. It looks sweet and similar to vanilla ice cream, but it’s nothing like regular ice cream. In fact, we couldn’t really taste the sweetness from the ice cream. It was only when we bit into the nuts, dried fruits and syrup that we got on the sweeter side.

    Last, but not least, our favourite and classic ole’ Ebisu Tiramisu. Probably the best tiramisu we’ve had by far, the Ebisu Tiramisu uses a darker roast of espresso – hence it has a richer flavour. The best feature of this dessert is its excellent moistness and sponginess. It’s topped with a strong chocolate flavour, and its creaminess is courtesy of the mascarpone cheese. The tiramisu was dusted with lots of bitter cocoa powder, which made us think it might be a straight-up bitter dessert. But guess what – you can barely taste the bitterness. This was an easy 10/10!

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    To make our dining experience extra special, we were served with some of Taverna’s intriguing selection of wines from NON, an Australian company that produces non-alcoholic “wines,”. These wines delivered flavours that emit floral, tannin, saline, and acidic notes that will satiate your tastebuds. Some of what we tried was the Non 001, a salted raspberry with a hint of chamomile, the Non 002, a caramelized pear and kombu combo that had a bold body and a buttery texture, red wine and a sweet cinnamony kombucha.

    Overall, Taverna is a fantastic new restaurant where you can fill up on Italian food with a Japanese flair and a sense of regional flavour. The establishment boasts a bright vintage setting, friendly and knowledgeable staff, delectable food, and a large range of wines and desserts to keep you smiling. Bonus point: this place is pork-free too! Be sure to check out Taverna to experience the best of two worlds in one place.

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