Pan-fried dumplings filled with duck and foie gras in a Parmigiano Reggiano sauce. Zucchini flowers in tempura with buffalo mozzarella and ponzu mayonaise in a soy sauce reduction. These are just a few of the traditional Asian dishes made with ingredients exclusively obtained from the Mediterranean offered at Le Asiatique, Rome’s newest fusion restaurant.
Just a few days before Christmas Le Asiatique opened – not far from the Spanish Steps – in Largo della Fontanella Borghese. While mostly Japanese, the dishes prepared by Chef Daniele Cavuoto are also inspired by Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese cooking. The restaurant’s opening also coincides with the 150th anniversary of Italy’s bilateral relations with Japan this year.
After years of travelling throughout Asia, Michelle Sermoneta and Stefano Calò decided to open Le Asiatique and gathered together a 100% Italian team, from the architect to the chef to the barlady.
In addition to the fusion food, the restaurant is also mix in name. Sermoneta and Calò chose to add a French article and suffix to the name of the continent, to which their cuisine is dedicated.
Located on the ground level of 18th century palazzo in Rome’s Campo Marzio district, choose any one of the restaurant’s six rooms to enjoy sushi or a cocktail. The restaurant’s décor is also tinged with an essence of modern fusion. Each room is designed around one central Asian-inspired work of contemporary art: wall-sized mural of geishas, a kimono made of thousands of stamps from around the world, or a shoji (a Japanese sliding wall) with Asian surrealist designs. However each dimly-lit space is also characterized by plum-colored fabrics recalling the Roman aristocracy.
While the menu is extensive, crudo is king. Raw fish abounds from nigiri and sashimi to ceviches and oysters. You can opt for classic fish like salmon, tuna or eel. Otherwise try the foie gras for more of European twist on classic Japanese sushi. For the vegetarians there is a “sushi” roll with avocado, cucumber, daikon, pepper and crispy scallion.
Along the same ‘raw’ lines, try the crispy sushi rice with Wagyu beef or tuna tartare. And for those who prefer something cooked, Le Asiatique offers uramaki with soft shell crab with avocado and ponzu mayonnaise or uramaki with salmon, black truffle and avocado and chicken yakatori with soy sauce.
If you still have room for dessert go for the crème brulee flavored with matcha tea or sink your teeth into a selection of mochi which include black sesame, green tea, mango and chocolate.
A stop at the bar is another option. There you can sip Le Asiatique’s cocktails, which are shaken and stirred with Asian spices and liquors. On the European side the wine list is composed of mainly Italian and French wines. The barlady also offers a selection of more than 100 different spirits, including a wide selection of sakis and shochu.
Open for both lunch and dinner, Le Asiatique doesn’t close in between meals – a real rarity in the Eternal City. This means Romans and tourists alike are able to choose the hour in which they would like to eat, not the few hours in which are traditionally slotted for pranzo and cena. At lunch the restaurant offers bento boxes, which are single-portion meals traditional to Japanese cuisine, often packed for children’s lunches at school.
No matter the hour, a stop at Le Asiatique is worth your while.
Largo della Fontanella Borghese, 86/a
Tel. +39 06 69330441
Open from noon to midnight
Closed on Mondays
Images © Le Asiatique
Elizabeth Simari teaches Italian culinary history and wine seminars at American universities across Rome. Also a sommelier, journalist and translator, she can often be found in the kitchen with a pile of Italian cookbooks and magazines, replicating traditional recipes or discovering little-known indigenous grapes at an enoteca in the Eternal City.