Chiamata Ripetuta a La Strada

Pasta Carbonara

After a great experience last year, we decided to revisit La Strada in January, hopefully for a repeat experience.

Unfortunately, it’s just wasn’t the same; the magic is missing.

I was delighted to find that the menu has changed slightly but we were there seeking comfort in the familiar, so it was the famed Cabonara for her and a duck confit pasta for me.

I know, I know, ever since Salut and 8 On The Bay closed, I’ve not found any restaurant that can do a proper duck confit. I guess no one has the patience for it and besides, it does not make good business sense to spend so much time on something people have no appreciation of anymore. Alas.

But one can hope no?


Anyway, for starters, it was Vongole and a Tomato-ey Tripe. I was told the Vongole was good but I found the Tripe not as tasty as it should be. Typically Tripe has no taste but it absorbs the flavor of whatever stock or gravy that you use to cook it with. This was not so for La Strada’s Tripe “soup”. It was like eating two different things lumped together in a bowl.


Still, I was not too displeased because a) I wasn’t here for the soup and b) everyone makes mistakes once in a while.

I was a little taken aback when I saw the Pasta Carbonara when it arrived. It didn’t look right to me. For one thing, the pasta didn’t look right as it was as what the Hokkien would describe as “Jiao” and I could hardly discern the Truffled love that was once lavished on it.

A quick taste test confirmed it; the pasta was served tepid. There’s nothing quite as icky as tepid Carbonara sauce. The pasta wasn’t as al dente as I remembered it and again, there wasn’t a harmony in the taste.

My duck confit pasta fared little better as it came slightly warmer but there wasn’t that integration of flavors that is so essential in cooking.

I kept my peace about the duck confit, but fed-back our Carbonara disappointment to the waiter who immediately gave us the most illogical explanation about pasta cooking I’ve ever heard. I believe that it would have been less damaging if he didn’t try and instead, told the attending Chef about our feedback.

Of course, this resulted in a caramel ice-cream dessert apology (let’s not dig deeper into guilt). The irony of it was that we were avoiding this particular ice-cream because of the caramel. 😆


It wasn’t until last Sunday when I found out in the papers that the Chef of our previous visit left the restaurant. My guess is that the new Chef need some time to get into the groove of things because right now, I feel the food is perfunctorily assembled without some thought or consideration to harmony.

The new Chef has some big shoes to fill and I do hope that she either fills them fast or, even better, presents to the world her own pair of magic shoes.


Posted on 9th Feb 2009 in About, Food and Drink, Italian


There Are 4 Comments


Pete commented on February 10, 2009 at 6:06 am

I was about to ask if you knew the original Chef Leandro Panza had left (and the standard of food went down conversely) when I saw your comments later on in your article. I agree, the new chef better buck up fast, before La Strada loses more of its faithful customers.


ivan commented on February 10, 2009 at 10:10 am

@Pete: 🙂 Actually, I would prefer that the new Chef finds her own voice rather than try and reproduce the old menu. Granted that this may lose some customers, but I think it may bring in new ones.

The Pasta Carbonara is good and comforting but it’s becoming stale and it would be sad if La Strada becomes a one-trick pony.


opium_gal commented on March 15, 2009 at 7:15 pm

New lady chef @ La Strada. Loved the set lunches on weekends. She’s good if you stay away from original chef signature dishes. For the best duck confit, go to Le Bistro @ Indoor Stadium. Enjoy!


ivan commented on March 18, 2009 at 11:56 am

@opium_gal: Be that as it may, most people tend to revisit a restaurant in search of the comfort of the familiar. Unless there is a total revamp of the menu where the new Chef showcases her work and removes the anchors of the past, said patrons will be confused, if not betrayed, at the sudden “dip in perceived quality” of familiar favorites.

As you can see, we also tried the non-Signature dishes but alas.

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