CALIA: A Japanese restaurant with a deceptively non-Japanese name in Emporium. It has a simple, yet fresh menu designed by Micheline chef Francisco Javier Araya – so the most Michelin experience I’ve had so far, and without a hefty price tag. I loved the interior! It was very modern and chic, with a light wooden palette and a long mirror in the back to give the area a more spacious feel. We had a “window” seat which faced the Emporium walkways. Half of the restaurant is a unique, delicacy store, featuring 11+ wagyu, to line caught sashimi, to truffles and sake.
The Marbled Sukiyaki Bowl (Premium Marble 9+ Wagyu Slices with a 63 degree egg) – $16.5
The good fat: Such a petite, elegant dish with care placed into each element! The wagyu was so tender, smooth, and fluid, characteristic of a 9+ grade marbled wagyu (the grade refers to the distribution of fat in wagyu beef). It was thinly sliced and very juicy. I thoroughly enjoyed the savouriness of the soy sauce marinade that somewhat resembled Asian braised flavours. There was a good rice, beef and sauce ratio, without large chunks of plain rice in the end. The 63 degree egg (slow-cooked egg poached for 1 hour) was held together perfectly and broke up smoothly, running over the rice, adding moisture to the dish.
The bad fat: The portion size was a bit small and I would’ve liked to have a bit more rice with the marinade. Sukiyaki is also normally referred to as marinated, sliced beef cooked in hot pot, whereas this was on rice in a bibimpap-like stone bowl (not really a negative, just more of a misnomer that spoils the authenticity). An addition of greens, even just a few sprigs of spring onion or a few slices of cucumber etc. inside would’ve given this dish a more overall, well-rounded feel.
Ochazuke Salmon (Grilled Line Caught Salmon with a Dashi Tea Broth) – $15.9
I didn’t have this dish, but had a light taste so comments are very simple.
The good fat: The salmon was very fresh, tender, and perfectly pink in the middle. It’s good to have an option of being able to pour on the Dashi Tea Broth, which was placed in a cute vase-like jug on the side.
The bad fat: It is quite common in Western countries that the Dashi tea broth is too light and soupy, and this place was no exception. The tea flavour was very light, almost non-existent so the overall dish wasn’t very flavoursome. There was also too much rice and broth compared to salmon.
Matcha Lava Lava (Chocolate Lava Cake with Matcha Ganache) – $14.8
The good fat: AMAZING DESSERT! (Even though I’m kind of automatically biased towards cheesecake and matcha) Would definitely be on par with the cakes at Brunetti (see more at: Cake for Breakfast? YES PLEASE!) but with an Asian twist. Takes around 15 minutes after you order for it to come up and the wait was 110% worth it! It was visually appealing, dashed with cream, edible flowers and fruit on the side and the size was actually a little big larger than I expected. The cake was warm and a pleasure to cut open, with the matcha ganache slowly oozing out. The warm, chocolate lava cake was dark and rich but not too sweet, with a delightful crunch of the freshly baked edges. This was complemented perfectly by the matcha ganache, with well-balanced tea infused with sweetness flavours. The texture of the cake was soft on the inside whilst the ganache was not too runny which was great and allowed us to scoop up its remnants with the cake hehehe. The cream on the side provided a much needed, light and cool addition to cut back the richness.
The bad fat: I WANT MORE! Even though after half of the cake it was actually quite rich and chocolatey hehehe. Can’t really fault this except a little bit on the pricey end.
Should you get fat here?
YES! A refreshing, modern Japanese place with chic decor and simple, yet elegant dishes that are reasonably priced, PLUS a dessert to die for.