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You know you’ve either struck gastronomic gold or epicurean egotism when the entranceway of a restaurant is littered with photos and books from the chef. But in the case of Mikuni, it’s the marking of some slightly expensive, slightly understated Italian classics in an otherwise superbly tranquil environment.

Taking the Japanese love for perfectly emulating Western cuisine, the menu leans on the apparently globally renowned Kiyomi Mikuni’s experiences. Unlike the space’s previous incarnation as the Thai-Korean fusion Chowhaus, Mikuna is a more straight-laced Italian affair.

To start we sampled a seasonal cold platter (RMB88) that includes a wedge of tortilla and chilled ratatouille. It was tasty and really should have been served alongside the ciabatta as a token amuse bouche. Far better is a delicate yet satisfyingly standalone crab pasta (RMB118), silky sauce on silken al dente pasta. At this price though it should be even more memorable.

Mikuni’s big feature is the huge pizza oven nestled in the corner. It is full of angry flames and tended to by a couple of very tidy looking guards like a medieval furnace. A prosciutto and rocket pizza (RMB168) comes loaded with the featured ham (perhaps compensating for the absent rocket) and is neither huge nor delectable considering that this is the most expensive pie we’ve had all year. With all that heat in the oven though, they should be able to perfect the thin-base, light-topping combo that we’d travel for.

What follows though is a bottle of house white (from RMB250), a panna cotta (RMB48) and a couple of hours of chilled conversation. This is Mikuni’s main strength; it has just the right mix of appeal, comfort and light-handed service to make you feel at ease and relax.

  • Mikuni
  • 021 3360-3058

  • 1415 Huashan Lu [map]
  • 上海市华山路1415号

  • Italian
  • ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
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