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Can you ever fuse the distinctive Japanese and Italian cuisines as one? Let’s find out.

Luxury & Lifestyle 15-09-2019

Located a short walk from Dalston Kingland station, nestled among a parade of similarly chic restaurants, is family owned Angelina restaurant, serving an exciting exploration of Japanese and Italian cuisine

We arrived for supper and were welcomed by the affable owner, Amar.  The décor is pared-down-minimalistic-zen, that is instantly calming, setting the scene for a relaxed evening.  The minimalism is well thought-out, the spectacular marble-like white tables are a feature in their own right, which definitely makes a statement but in an understated fashion.  Two giant, ceiling-high trees add a sense of warmth to the room. On this particular evening, the evening light flooded the room through the large window, radiating a wonderful glow.

Impressed with our surroundings, we settled into a comfortable booth and ordered the recommended Japanese gin, Roku, with the classic tonic combination.  A must try for gin lovers, enthusiasts, and novices alike.  As my friends and I absorbed ourselves in casual conversation a gentle buzz developed in the room – a pitch perfect backdrop for casual dinner conversation.  The unobtrusive staff encouraged the relaxed dining atmosphere.

Warmed by the delightful gin and tonic, we were ready to eat. The restaurant offers tasting menus only. The menu is fashionably sparse, but I am partial to a small menu with the caveat that everything on it must be mind-blowingly spectacular. There are with options for vegetarian and vegan dinners, which we later thought could have had more creativity.  To my delight the food can be paired with either Italian wine or beer.  Naturally, I chose the wine pairing. 

I must confess that the Italian and Japanese fusion, whilst exciting conceptually, was held with some reservation with our party.  This is perhaps because each cuisine is renowned for their distinctive flavours, textures, and technique, making it difficult to imagine how they might fuse together and whether the fusion would be complementary. We were eager to be challenged, surprised, and delighted – all in equal measures.

First up, frito misto, crispy kale tempura, was instantly addictive – light and full of flavour. We decided that we want that with our next movie instead of popcorn… in a bucket! Next, we sampled the perfectly cooked carrot with parmesan and sesame dressing – I say, that’s a marriage made in heaven!  The wine accompanying the first two dishes hit just the right notes.   

Moving on to the fish course, the combination of sea bream and tuna surpassed my expectations. I was a bit apprehensive about the next combination, parma ham and an Italian cheese donut, so far so good right? But layered with bonito [fish] flakes – I was not so sure about that. To my surprise the ham-cheese-fish combo worked really well, and packed a massive umami punch.

The lamb cushions, or sweetbread to the rest of us, was perhaps more suited to offal lovers. Personally, I would it’s not something I would ever choose on a menu.  However, the offal lovers at the table enjoyed it, and the Italian wine pairing continued to be a hit.

Following an Italian menu format, the penultimate course was a pasta dish– bucatini with anchovy.  Flavours were excellently balanced with slight bitter notes.  Now for the main event, the beef. It was delightful in texture and cooked expertly, and the quality of the beef was outstanding.

Filled to the brim, we awaited the last course.  The chocolate mousse with lime sorbet completed the meal on a high note, with a perfectly paired dessert wine.

Only one way to finish a meal here, a smooth Japanese whiskey and that too in their hidden cozy bar.  Perfect for lovers and friends alike to begin or finish their journey at Angelina.

Review by Pinkal Patel

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