If you can find Fa Niente restaurant and you have a reservation, I can promise you a hell of an Italian meal right in the heart of Okayama City.
Fa Niente is a tiny restaurant hidden on the second floor of the Bosco building. There is no signs outside of the Bosco building, I had to walk in and look at the post boxes to be sure the restaurant was there.
The Bosco building is all concrete and glass bricks, pretty easy to spot. The restaurant is on the second floor.
Fa Niente has only 4 tables and you will absolutely need a reservation to eat there.
There is only a prix fixe menu which is 5770 yen, but when you make your reservation, the chef will ask you if there is any food you don’t like.
The restaurant and the kitchen share the same room, it’s almost like being in somebody’s house. The chef works by himself with the help of a single waitress, it’s that small and intimate.
Fa Niente is great cooking in a non pretentious setting, it’s cooking with a human touch. The furniture is also quite stunning, the tables and chairs are the kind a stuff I would have in my own kitchen if I had the money.
We were welcomed by a complementary glass of sparkling wine and we were given the drink menu. I opted for the 6 glasses wine pairing menu which is just a bit more than 3300 yen. You can also chose a 3 glasses pairing or order by the glass.
The first starter was a cold pumpkin soup which was simple and very refreshing. The chef came to our table to tell us that the pumpkin came from Ushimado which is an area of Okayama prefecture famous for it’s kabotcha.
He gave the tone right away, Italian food with the best local ingredients. He also introduced the first white wine, a Ciapin 2010.
The second started was a simple plate of vegetables, miniature tomatoes and a small mozzarella di bufala.
The veggies were serve with a bagna cauda, the thing was so good, I had to refrain myself from spooning all of it.
The second white wine was from Tuscanny, a Torricella 2010.
Freshly baked bread was brought to the table with a trio of olive oils from Sicily.
The fish dish came next and it was a brine piece of salmon topped with marinated carrots. I am not a big fan of salmon, but this piece of fish was near perfection.
The top was crisp and the bottom was almost raw. The fact that I want to eat it again speaks about the talent of the chef.
The first pasta dish was quite a surprise since it was pretty much ravioli with a very soup-like four cheese sauce.
The dish was so soupy that it came with a spoon only. Imagine a really good quatro formaggi pizza turned into a rich sauce and that’s pretty much what we got. The balance between the cheeses was pretty interesting. Probably not my favorite dish of the night, but a nice discovery.
The second pasta dish was a spaghetti with a wagyu meat sauce.
The taste was rich and the sauce deliciously beefy. The waitress indicated that the meat came from the leg of the beef, I didn’t understand exactly which part, but it was soft and well stewed.
By this point in the meal, I am surprisingly really full but the piece de resistance has not yet been served. It came in the form of a piece of Okayama raised beef served with potatoes and fresh mustard seeds from Tasmania.
The beef was fatless, nicely pink and so tender I could cut it with my fork alone. The combination of the fresh mustard and the steak was a really nice pairing, simple, but not overpowering like a rich sauce.
My last red wine was an Epicuro 2009 which I hope to find somewhere in Japan. I could easily drink a whole bottle with my wife.
The dessert was a cheese cake and a chocolate cake served with ice cream. Both were very good.
The dessert came with a choice of coffee and tea.
I can’t find any flaws in this sumptuous meal, the service was great, the food was prepared with great care and the atmosphere at Fa Niente is relax and cosy. It is rare to be in such close proximity to the kitchen and the chef looks like he is enjoying himself.
The food and wine pairing is really nice and the chef took the time to explain each pairing in detail.
Fa Niente is not a cheap restaurant, but I came out or almost needed to be rolled out with an happy grin on my face. Look, it’s a really good deal, so don’t hesitate to reserve the next time you feel like you need to celebrate.
090-1353-8003 Open 6PM, no lunch.