Not long ago, we visited Carino, a Japanese Italian fusion restaurant, with a few friends. The restaurant is hidden on the first floor of an old, tiny building. From the outside you could hardly tell it is a bistro+wine bar. However, as soon as you walked in, you would feel as if you entered a totally different world. The elegant lighting and modern black and red decor instantly gave you the impression that it is a classy, fine-dining restaurant. This place is small and intimate. The tables get filled up quickly on the weekends, thus it is highly recommended to make reservations in advance.
Carino has a simple one-page menu, but it took us a while to decide what to order. We asked the staff to tell us their popular dishes and finally I decided to go with cornish hen alla diavola ($24) and Kev ordered duck! duck!! duck!! type 2 ($35). The price is a bit high so were our expectations. We patiently waited for our food to arrive… If you don’t want to wait too long, I would suggest ordering some appetizers to start with. If you are a wine drinker, you can try some wine. The restaurant has an extensive wine list and the owner is also a sommelier who has extensive knowledge in wine.
After a long wait, my cornish hen alla diavola has finally arrived. The deep fried cornish hen is served with ankake sauce , wild mushrooms and chinese kale. The hen was very tender and moist, didn’t taste like it was deep fried at all. Rather, it reminded me of the chicken stew I had when I was in Asia. The gnocchi was chewy and soft. The ankake sauce gave it a light sweet and salty taste.
Kev’s duck dish consisted of 3 different portions- foie gras ravioli, confit leg and roasted breast. It was interesting to taste duck in 3 different variety. The duck tasted delicious and definitely filled you up. In Kev’s opinion, the confit leg tasted the best of all.
One of our friends ordered the organic beef short rib ($25). The pappardelle is served with beef short rib, wild mushroom, parmesan and chinese kale. He said the pasta tasted delicious, but he didn’t see the “fusion” element in this dish. Adding a chinese kale on the side certainly didn’t making it Japanese-Italian fusion.
Our vegetarian friend ordered the curry doria ($15). The curry was served in a ceramic hot pot. The pot made the rice at the bottom and the edge crispy and crunchy. Yum… Curry+cheese is the best combination you can ever had for comfort food. However, once again, the Japanese-Italian fusion element isn’t strong in this dish.
Overall, atmosphere was great, food was above-average. A bit too pricey. I wasn’t too impressed with what they have done with the Japanese-Italian fusion theme. I was more looking forward to the blend of Japanese and Italian tastes, rather than mere addition of Italian and Japanese food onto a dish.
My review- It is like Matcha KitKat- a place for adventurous diners who don’t mind to pay a few extra bucks to try innovative fusion dishes.