il Cielo Rooftop Italian Dining, Hilton Singapore’s Japanese-Italian omakase leaves the menu in the chef’s hands, but your dining experience firmly in yours.

Less than a year after taking over the reins of this poolside restaurant, chef de cuisine Yohhei Sasaki is upping the ante by adding an interactive omakase (from $158 for seven courses) to his à la carte, degustation and set menus.

il Cielo's private dining room - - il Cielo Rooftop Italian Dining Interactive Omakase Experience

An omakase party perhaps in il Cielo’s private dining room?

Before you start envisioning ‘interactive’ to mean a tête-à-tête with the chef as he prepares your meal, we should say that the restaurant’s interpretation is closer to that of a customised collaborative meal. At least three days in advance, when you make a reservation (contact, you’d let the restaurant know your allergies or requests. But more than that, chef Sasaki hopes you will tell him more about yourself, by way of favourite ingredients, dishes or food memories. With that in mind, he composes themed menus, say, on seafood or seasonal produce. In each case, courses are a mix of Japanese fusion and classic Italian dishes, and you’d have the option of having wines paired by Antoine Causel, assistant food & beverage director.

Chef de cuisine Yohhei Sasaki at work - il Cielo Rooftop Italian Dining Interactive Omakase Experience

Chef de cuisine Yohhei Sasaki at work

Says chef Sasaki, who previously worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in Tuscany and Lombardy, as well as at traditional Japanese restaurants in Tokyo,”My version of omakase involves an infusion of Japanese cooking techniques and ingredients into Italian cuisine. For example, methods used in traditional Japanese sushi restaurants are incorporated into how we prepare carpaccio. Ingredients are kept simple and each dish uses fresh, seasonal items. A lot of time and preparation goes into bringing the guest something original and creative.”

Japanese-Italian fusion starter dish of Hokkaido samma fish - il Cielo Rooftop Italian Dining Interactive Omakase Experience

Japanese-Italian fusion starter dish of Hokkaido sanma fish

We saw some of that Japanese-Italian fusion in the recent autumnal omakase wine pairing dinner we had there. The starter dish, inspired by Japanese bonfires commonly seen at the close of summer, is one example. Here, an autumnal Hokkaido sanma fish is paired with a Kyoto eggplant bagna cauda or Italian dipping sauce, smoked burrata cheese sauce, Japanese ginger flower, charcoal grissini, and garnished with maple leaves and Italian Baeri caviar. The smokiness of the dish evokes a campfire by twilight, and melds a blend of cold, warm, savoury and sweet.

The second pasta dish on the other hand, offered a taste of  a hearty, home-cooked Italian meal. In this case it was a sweet pumpkin gnocchi stuffed with four cheeses—taleggio, gorgonzola, pecorino truffle and mascarpone— with pumpkin purée and Autumn Italian black truffle. The richness of the dish made us feel like we were given a luscious treat by a doting nonna. Fresh and fruity notes from a glass of Domain Chevalier Père et Fils Ladoix 1er Cru La Corvée, 2012, a 100 percent Pinot Noir from the Côte de Beaune wine-growing region complemented the course.

Dessert is just as harmonious - il Cielo Rooftop Italian Dining Interactive Omakase Experience

Dessert is just as harmonious

Dessert converged Japanese and Italian influences for the last time, in the form of a chocolate-shelled mont blanc, made with kuri or Japanese chestnuts, and paired with white truffle gelato, Valrhona chocolate tree, cocoa grissini and shaved black truffle. Causel thoughtfully paired this with a Carmes de Rieussec Sauternes 1998, a dessert wine that was sweet, but not cloying.

Level 24 Hilton Singapore, 581 Orchard Road. Tel: 6730 3395

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