Here’s a new restaurant we’ve heard great things about and it certainly lives up to expectations. First, let’s explain the name– Osteria Pelecanus. Osteria is a small Italian restaurant serving simple food and pelecanus is latin for pelican. Ok, so why pelican? It just happens to be the favourite animal of owner/chef, Zan, because pelicans have large mouths and can eat a lot of food!
Zan spent time in New Zealand studying French cooking and then working in Italian restaurants there. The food he cooks now is not strictly Italian, but more of his personal style of light, fresh, flavourful creations with some fusion influence. The restaurant space is very small, 4 tables and some counter seating. Music is youthful, bright and edgy. Décor is black and white simple. Zan prefers to let the food do the talking, and my goodness, does his food sing!
Everything on the menu sounded so tempting (and I was greedy), so I ordered a feast. First up, Buffalo Burrata (118RMB). Air-flown from Italy, only 3 of these babies are served each day. Zan presents the burrata like a deconstructed caprese salad, with a pool of the sweetest cherry tomato puree and the daintiest little basil leaves swirling out in a pretty design. Cut into the burrata’s hard mozzarella shell to reveal the creamy center. Spoon it together with some cherry puree, nab a basil leaf, sprinkle some flaky salt, drizzle some olive oil on top and you’re in food heaven.
Then came Butter Braised Bamboo Shoots with Scamorza Topping (55RMB) and my mind was blown. So delicious, and I can barely describe it, it’s unlike anything I’ve tasted before. The thyme butter poached bamboo tips were so sweet, but still crunchy. The scamorza cheese béchamel sauce tastes familiar on the tongue, like some comfort food evoking Sunday roasts and home cooked casseroles, but then you remember you’re eating bamboo, and the brain tries to put everything together but is puzzled. Just amazing.
Caramelized Onion & Guanciale Pizza (68RMB) was sweet and smoky. Food is such a marvelous thing. It brings out different feelings for each person. Our photographer said this pizza reminded him of Chinese shaobing.
Chancho’s Roasted Ribs & Roasted Mushrooms (98RMB) were made with sweet soy sauce, a hint of vinegar and anchovy paste for extra umami. It came with plastic gloves for you to use your hands. But who needs gloves? I dove head first into the porky, meaty depths and it was many minutes later before I resurfaced.
With Porcini Risotto (60RMB), the al dente rice grains are bathed in a savoury, full-flavoured mushroom sauce and you can taste the work that went into making it.
Homemade Gnocchi with Prosciutto & Pepper (68RMB) are made with Gansu potatoes for a more powdery potato texture that disintegrates in the mouth. The rich, peppery sauce is delectable too.
Saffron Panna Cotta (38RMB) had cut orange segments and a creamy eggy flavour. We were treated to some Homemade Gelato (38RMB) too, with interesting flavour combinations like pineapple-pandan and rose-milk tea.
Zan changes his menu as suits the seasons and depending on what’s fresh. Speaking of which, that butter braised bamboo is only there as long as bamboo season lasts. Come quickly to try it!