Sherman's Food Adventures: Kissa Tanto

Kissa Tanto

Sometimes, when a person suddenly comes into money and/or becomes famous, the little people are all but forgotten.  Well, I can't say that Mijune has fallen into that trap because she still talks to me!  She, of the Top Chef Canada fame, was in town recently (she's always traveling somewhere) and actually found time meet up for dinner (albeit 2nd dinner...).  Hey, I will take what I can get...  We decided to hit up one of the hottest spots in town being Kissa Tanto.  I've been here within the year, but it was a good enough reason for a revisit just for kicks (and to try dishes we didn't have the first time).

We started with Fried Stuff Olives presented in an appealing golden colour.  They weren't as crispy as they appeared though, but it wasn't a deal breaker.  They were stuffed with chili sausage which provided a robust flavour and spice to go with the saltiness.  These were tasty little bites to start the meal.  Next up was the Beet Salad consisting of stracciatella, artichokes, smoked maitake mushrooms and mesclun greens in a black garlic vinaigrette.  The salad was well-seasoned with a sweet and tangy brightness that was accented by an Earthiness.  Probably the most memorable component was the mushroom, but we could only find 2 small pieces.  There needed to be a "crunch" factor in our opinion since everything was soft.

The most visually-striking and interesting dishes we had was the Tonno Mantecato featuring toasted bruschetta topped with tobiko.  On the side was smoked potato mixed with confit albacore tuna and topped with furikake.  The aggressively charred edges of the bread was smoky, nutty and robust.  Combined with the tobiko, there was a crunchy and briny thing going on.  It was so good, the side of dense and mildly salty potato was not necessary.  Believe it or not, our most favourite dish of the night was the Legumes sporting scarlett runner, chickpeas and braised yuba in herbed butter.  This reminded us of Chinese Buddha's feast but not.  Due to the lemon and butter, there was a wealth of flavour and richness.  The textures of the ingredients provided for a fun chew.

Onto some larger items, we had the Clam Pasta with anchovies.  This was an attractive dish with fresh in-shell clams which provided a noticeable brininess that combined well with the spicy tomato sauce.  In terms of impact and flavour, this was an excellent tasting dish.  However, there was a sticky and greasy mouth-feel to it and that tempered our excitement.  As recommended, we ordered the Half Chicken with shio koji dipping sauce.  The breast portion was tender and meaty with fully rendered skin.  The herbed oil on top was rather mild-tasting.  However, the dip was pretty tasting being tangy and appealingly Earthy.  The roulade on the side was rather dry, but ultimately crispy.

Our first try at the Wagyu Lifter Steak didn't turn out right due to bad luck (one out of many sometimes ends up chewy).  So that was replaced with another and it was super tender and buttery.  The fermented cabbage was crunchy and tangy with a nice hit of sesame oil. We weren't convinced that the tangy and spicy calabrian chili sauce was that necessary as the shaved Parm on top added a beautiful nutty saltiness to the meat.  For dessert, we shared the Tiramisu (which I've had before) with whipped soy milk, plum wine and marscapone. Similar to last time, the tiramisu was airy and light. There was a lesser espresso than last but it was still there.  Overall, this return to Kissa Tanto yielded mixed results.  Portions of dishes were very good, but some elements didn't work or were not prepared properly.  With that being said, it was still an enjoyable meal.

The Good:
- Some surprising combination of ingredients
- Lively vibe

The Bad:
- Not everything works when you experiment
- Prices can get up there

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