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Mediterranean Vibes

Ray Chan pulls up a stool at the hottest new table in town, Salisterra at the Upper House

With a show-stopping location on the 49th floor of the Upper House hotel, there’s been quite a stir around Salisterra’s opening, whose menu is overseen by British-based Michelin-starred chef Jun Tanaka. Classically trained, Tanaka’s restaurant in London, the Ninth, is founded on the princi-ples of French cuisine with a focus on simple dishes where the ingredients are allowed to speak for themselves. He’s earned one Michelin star for his efforts here, and it’s this formula of fuss-free, Mediterranean-inspired cooking that has inspired the menu at Salisterra, his first overseas outpost.

As you’d expect at the Upper House, the design is cool and captivating, with a warm colour pal-ette of terracotta orange, burgundy, mineral blue, turquoise and caramel delivering a nod to the menu’s Mediterranean influences. The main dining room is adorned with a bespoke five-metre chandelier crafted from 80 glass lanterns reminiscent of the harbour below, while three semi-private dining booths are equally striking with their elevated marble counter tables and cut-glass globe pendants. The design statements continue at the bar lounge, which is conceived as an ac-tor’s green room and decked out in racing green lacquer and Pevla stone.

Aiming to capture the warmness and familiarity of a neighbourhood bistro and the zesty flavours of the Mediterranean, the coastal cuisines of France and Italy feature heavily on the menu, which is designed for sharing rather than formal plates (you’ll need to book 48 hours in advance to order the sharing dinner menu). The integrated service style, meanwhile, gives the kitchen greater access to guests, with semi-private tables elevated to connect with the open kitchen as diners are presented with the sharing menu. There’s also a private dining room for 10, imagined as a kitchen space, where wine tasting and pastry making sessions are held. Keeping with the theme of exploration and togetherness, there’s an island bar in the lounge where guests are en-couraged to sample different wines and spirits.

The evening begins with some Beaufort and truffle gougeres, savoury profiteroles with a mousse-like filling that are as light as a feather and a great way to start the meal. We are then treated to flamed saba mackerel, with pickled cucumber, samphire and capers elevating the dish further. The panzanella with fromage frais radiates freshness, the tomatoes, peppers, olives and crunchy croutons all harmonising together delightfully on the palate. When the truffle Campanelli with cured egg yolk and sourdough croutons arrives at the table, the menu really starts to hot up and Tanaka shows off his star quality with a deliciously creamy, umami-packed pasta dish. Lan-goustine ravioli follows, which my companion for the evening, Jetsetter publisher Denis, declares outstanding and worth the visit to Salisterra alone, the sweet langoustines wrapped in perfect pasta topped with a langoustine bisque and sundried tomatoes.

Next up is the grilled Te Mana lamb cutlets, the meat perfectly blush, the apricot vinaigrette re-freshing the palate after each bite and the sweet fruit notes complementing the slightly gamey quality of the lamb. Served with buttery broccolini and anchovy, it’s an inspired, triumphant dish that could easily become a signature Salisterra offering.

The highlight of the night for me, however, has to be the next course, Tanaka’s Salt Crust Pata-gonian Toothfish, an amazingly moist and juicy piece of fish that’s faultlessly cooked. While quite salty, it’s offset by a bitter leaf salad on the side along with some Tokyo turnip. Pleasantly sated but not overly full, it’s onto a beautifully presented tiramisu, a sliver of orange sat atop the dish with a piece of hand-made chocolate leaning against Italian coffee mousse, Grand Marnier and crimson cocoa. One slight criticism is there wasn’t quite enough cream between the thin layers of liqeur-soaked sponge for my liking, but overall the menu has been a real triumph and proves that Tanaka has several signature dishes up his sleeve that are sure to have diners coming back for more. salisterra.com



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