Venice: Asian travel guide - where to eat and what to see
Venice is a city of universally recognized beauty: with its lagoon it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Characterized by canals instead of streets, it boasts unique artistic and urban treasures in the world. In my opinion, the most beautiful city in Italy.
So, here's where to eat about Asian food and what to see in Venice!
Here is my guide to Venice for a long weekend.
WHAT TO SEE
It is the site of the International Gallery of Modern Art.
On the upper floors there is the Museum of Oriental Art, where it is possible to admire the armor of the daimyo of the Edo period, ceramics, lacquers and everyday objects from
Japan, China and Indonesia.
WHERE TO EAT
Osteria Giorgione da Masa
In Cannaregio there is a very particular place, in some ways unique of its kind, which offers Japanese cicheti: it is Osteria Giorgione da Masa.
The host is Masahiro Homma, known to most simply as Masa, a Japanese chef originally from Yokohama and raised in Kobe. His first training took place in a Hiroshima restaurant, where he begins to take an interest in Italian cuisine. He then left for Italy, where he worked in Tuscany (Ristorante Boccanegra in Florence and La Tenda Rossa in Val di Pesa), then to Taormina, Emilia Romagna, Bolzano, Friuli and finally to Venice (Quadri, Le Calandre and Zanze XVI). Later, he is contacted by the owners of the Hotel Giorgione to manage the tavern, thus opening its doors in September 2020 in full Covid-19 emergency.
The menu, strictly handwritten, offers katei ryori, Japanese home cooking: among the various proposals, chicken karaage (marinated and fried), gyoza of the day and amiyaki sweetbreads.
Masa san, however, immediately imposed himself with the great desire to make his place a real trait d'union between an izakaya (typical Japanese tavern) and a Venetian bacaro (popular tavern where you can consume cicheti, delicious tastings, and shadows, wines to the glass). For this reason it can be said that the Osteria is truly unique, a still hidden gem that all lovers of haute cuisine and the Japanese gastronomic tradition must absolutely try.
The tasting menu is the perfect experience to immerse yourself in Masa san's creative flair: a multi-faceted journey characterized by countless courses, each with its own construction and a story to tell. As in a symphony, a crescendo of flavors, emotions and sensations is outlined. I am not exaggerating if I admit that this restaurant is the boldest and most successful experiment in the city of Venice.
The tasting opens with an entrée of amberjack cream croutons, seasoned garusoli, semolina wafer with prawns, shiokara marinated for ten days with shōchū and salt, followed by delicious red prawns with shiso and salad with croaker and shallot mayonnaise.
We move on to one of the most exciting courses of the evening: tuna belly macerated for ten days, soy sauce and onion.
It continues with the sardines in saor, the nakazuke with katsuobushi, daikon and kimchi, then again the mackerel marinated with onion soy sauce, the squid in brine with maturation for a week and then seared in a pan.
A short break with an excellent miso soup with daikon before moving on to blue crab with tosatsu jelly (or katsuobushi and smoked rice vinegar), to friggitelli with beef tongue stewed with asparagus and bottarga, mussels with green beans and agedashi eggplant .
Then, fried sardines with mayonnaise and ginger, rice with tsukudani amberjack, the delicious cold udon with dashi broth, nori seaweed and katsuobushi, the croaker amiyaki and ichiyaboshi cuttlefish (kept in brine and then dried before being blanched) and sweetbreads.
Then we come to the peanut ice cream and the zola ice cream, before concluding with two different types of puddings: one strongly citrusy accompanied by mint and blueberries and the second, the grand finale of all textures: sweet, savory, soft and crunchy. A real triumph!
Masa san is also a great lover of natural wines: get advice, his cellar is a treasure trove of hidden treasures - he only offers the labels he likes. Alternatively, you can opt for an excellent sake. Japanese whiskeys are also good.
Finally, a note of merit should be made to the staff, made up of kind, prepared and never intrusive young guys.
If this place were in Milan it would have already been rewarded and stormed by all the gourmands. Masa san is a great and humble master who must absolutely be recognized!
In San Polo, near the Basilica dei Frari, a small restaurant has recently opened which combines the soul of the Japanese tavern (izakaya) with that of the Venetian bacari.
The restaurant has few seats (which is why it is better to book) and in general the atmosphere winks at an international clientele: in fact, very few Italian patrons, most exclusively English and American.
At the counter you can order (and see) the chicchetti offered, all in line with the Japanese style: onigiri, okonomiyaki, croutons with tempura prawns and nanban sauce, yakitori, ajitama and takoyaki.
The menu is quite vast and recalls the tradition of Japanese and Venetian taverns. It is also possible to order wines and sake by the glass.
To start I ordered a Japanese spritz, containing sake. The taste was not very pleasant, also the crust on the edge of the glass as if it were a margarita seemed totally unjustified to me.
As an appetizer I tried the potato salad (garnished with Italian speck) and the Japanese-style creamed cod (the polenta is fried in chunks, while the cod is seasoned with yuzu zest).
So far everything was more or less good, in the sense that both dishes were very cold and in general they didn't stand out in terms of flavour. The main courses, on the other hand, didn't convince me at all: bigoli in sauce with sardine ichiyaboshi were totally unrelated (the sauce was all on the bottom and the pasta on top, although I mixed everything with a fork the final result was rather disappointing ), not to mention that the sardines and pieces of onion used as a garnish are really too many.
Even the yakiniku didn't drive me crazy: an excessively grilled cut seasoned with sesame and accompanied by a sesame sauce.
Although the presentation was overall nice or at least well-groomed, there wasn't a single dish that made me dream about the taste.
To all this are added two other negative determining factors: a totally unprepared and absent service - on several occasions I was tempted to get up and leave, given the treatment - and, moreover, a final bill that was anything but popular, certainly not like a tavern .
I was really disappointed with this restaurant, a real shame because it could have been something very interesting.
Fujiyama Tea Room Beatrice
A few steps away from the Accademia is Fujiyama, a delightful tea room with internal garden and b&b.
The place is very small, so I suggest you call before your arrival to ensure a seat. The menu is essential but the offer is really very good: herbal teas, fruit infusions, pure or flavored teas, rooibois and flowers.
I tried an excellent black tea and an equally intense and fragrant genmaicha. I would have liked a matcha but here it is only served in the matcha latte version (I hope they will add it to the menu in the future!).
Everything is served with care in elegant or nice teapots. It is also possible to order some homemade sweets or even sandwiches and bagels for a more substantial snack.
In short, a really nice place to take a quiet and relaxing break, the staff is kind and the price is right. I highly recommend it!
Ravioleria Venezia is a microscopic showcase in San Polo where you can buy fresh, quality dumplings steamed at the moment or to cook at home.
The menu is obviously almost entirely dedicated to Chinese dumplings but there are also baozi, Chinese wraps (perfect as a lunch while walking), rice and noodles.
The place is really very small which is why there is no seating. A serious shortcoming that would make the experience much more feasible because there are no places to stop in the surrounding area, and if it's raining or cold it's really impossible to have your meal.
I recommend it for a Chinese sandwich or flatbread, unless you have a place where you can sit and eat comfortably.
Pastificio Giacomo Rizzo
If you are in Venice and you want to buy Asian food products (mainly Japanese and Korean) to cook or to give as gifts, this historic shop has a very good selection.