Having Italian cuisine (or any European cuisine for that matter) in Japan is always an experience that requires an open mind. As much as Japanese have great admiration for western cooking techniques and flavours, they also have an incredibly deep respect for local produce – which brings about a delightful combination of tastes and textures, as long as you don’t go in looking for something too traditional. We experienced this at Moliere in Sapporo, and equally so at Otaru Dining No Name, a hidden gem of a restaurant that’s just recently opened in Otaru.
This ヘラカニスパゲティー crab spaghetti in a tomato cream sauce is a case in point. A massive umami bomb in that sauce which quite certainly had crab roe mixed in to create layers of incredible flavour oscillating between the underlying sweetness of tomato and the distinct hit of crustacean brininess. The spaghetti, meanwhile, was dense and chewy – almost ramen like – but absorbing well the flavours of the sauce. So good.
We also had antipasti, which interestingly included an eggplant parmagiano, only made with a dashi/soy base instead of tomato sauce, a soft cheese (camembert would be my guess), herb sausages, ham, pickled asparagus, smoked salmon and mentaiko on croquettes. Delicious, and very value for money at the ¥1500 it was priced.
This was followed by salmon and kinoko cream pasta, an elegant take on the otherwise classic combination most often found in Japanese supermarket sauce packets. Also, a seafood aglio olio with a massive langoustine bloated with roe, another whole crab, calamari, sea urchin and grilled prawns. Sea salt was used generously, as were herbs grown in the restaurant’s quaint front porch garden. Ramen-pasta was the base in both dishes. No complaints.
We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner here, in a quaint, beautifully appointed space with a most hospitable chef-owner quite enamoured with Europe. A small but well-rounded menu – I would love to see how it progresses the next time I stop in Otaru.
Otaru Dining No Name
2-1 Shinonomecho, Otaru, Hokkaido
Tel: +81 134 31 1020