So I went last week to see La Perna and chef de cuisine Marco Xodo. Lunch was ridiculous.
This is the menu.
Poached white asparagus, 5J ham, salad leaves
Morelli artisanal pasta, sea urchin, fine herbs
Australian “Mayura Station” classic tagliata, salad leaves, potatoes
Pan-seared filet, whipped belly, Mediterranean flavors
Lemon ice-cream sorbet
And this is what that looks like in person.
Asparagus blanketed in super-expensive ham
An expensive pasta turned orange from the Japanese sea urchin
Wagyu (=expensive) skirt steak, roasted over high-temp bincho-tan charcoal
(Why would you order the fish)
A mix of pure cream ice cream, lemon sorbet and sparkling wine, mashed at the table with two spoons
Ridiculous. Expensive. Expensive. Ridiculous.
When were finished, La Perna took us back in the kitchen and gave an impromptu lesson on an Italian fundamental: tomato sauce. He called for some from his team and spooned it on to a white plate. The bright red sauce sat there like pigment. We watched it for a while. Not the faintest sign of water or oil separated from the sauce. It tasted like fresh, crushed tomatoes. That was the lesson. La Perna is from Sicily. He takes tomato sauce very seriously. He takes everything very seriously.
Otto e Mezzo is what happens when price is no object for Italian food. It is unabashed luxury, from service to food, with the highest quality ingredients used liberally, almost wastefully. Hard to overstate how luxurious the place is, or how expensive. And yet -- it remains a favorite for the absolute dedication to and unabashed reverence for raw ingredients. La Perna’s technique looks simple. But there is little the restaurant doesn’t make itself, and after talking to him on several occasions, I can tell you, his technique is as complicated as the dishes appear simple.
Being able to dip into that world for 598rmb, when the average dinner check (according to Dianping) is 2,083rmb?
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