Those who love Asian cuisine are aware of the importance of finding the right place. In Milano there are countless Asian restaurants; in fact, here you can taste foods from different countries all around the world. But you need to be careful. Rule number one is to avoid those places offering the infamous “all you can eat” formula. Luckily in the last few years Asian cuisine has become extremely fashionable, and it is easy to find good places where to eat traditional Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian or Korean dishes. Among these, my favourites are Iyo, chic & expensive, Thai Gallery, the perfect place for Pad thai and Poporoya, a little sushi bar owned by chef Shiro. But recently I’ve discovered two restaurants that successfully combine Asian cuisine and Italian taste. One recreates the atmosphere of Vietnam; the other takes us to contemporary Japan.
VIETNAM MON AMOUR
Located in Piazza Piola, next to the green line underground stop, Vietnam Mon Amour is the quintessence of Oriental atmosphere in Milano. The interior is decorated with colonial style furniture, coloured cushions and lanterns. The courtyard is perfect for romantic dinners, and it’s hard to believe we’re in a big, chaotic city when we’re sitting in here. The wooden furniture come directly from Asia, as the owners explain. It seems we’ve travelled to Vietnam using one of Harry Potter’s magic portkeys.
If you love Asian cuisine, you’ll be pleased to find its typical flavours and ingredients in the coconut rise, green curry, steamed rolls and tamarind sauce. Here you can also order pho, the most popular dish in Vietnam, a soup served with rice noodles. The menu includes meat, fish and vegan options. Desserts are made with Vietnamese ingredients, but combined in a different manner. Coconut cake and chocolate cake alone are worth the dinner.
THE CALL OF JAPAN
Recently I’ve thought a lot about Japan. I bet it happened to you, too: when I start to get interested in a certain place, everything takes me there. The books I read, the films I watch, the food I eat. When I was a child, I used to dream about living in those lovely towns I saw in Japanese animated series. Two of my favourite movies are Memoires of a Geisha and Little Sister. I’ve read all the novels written by Banana Yoshimoto, and I’m enthusiastic about Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. And I don’t miss a documentary about Japan and Japanese culture. Needless to say, I’m fond of ramen, noodles, miso soup and rice.
ASIAN CUISINE WITH ITALIAN INGREDIENTS AT ZAZÀ RAMEN
And so, some days ago, I decided it was time to go to Zazà Ramen, a minimal chic noodle bar and restaurant in Via Solferino, next to Porta Nuova. The contemporary design of the interior helps understand the concept: Asian cuisine with an Italian touch. In fact they make ramen, a miso, noodle, greens and egg soup, using Italian ingredients such as grano duro, a type of wheat particularly good for pasta. You choose a main dish from the menu – ramen with meat, fish or vegetarian – and some appetizers, such as rice onigiri (rice balls), accompanied by green tea or sake. Everything is delicious and nutritious.
The two Japanese entrepreneurs who founded Zazà Ramen have worked in the fashion industry for years, and it shows in the way the place is decorated and food is served. Every detail in the restaurant is carefully selected, the design reflects the idea of simple elegance. After all, ramen consists of three ingredients, and three is the magic number.