When Buko Nero appeared on the scene in 2000, it took the dining scene by storm. It was one of the first restaurants to offer private dining, where guests dine on a small menu du jour at an affordable price, and tables are kept to a very small number. It also dished up a beautiful fusion of Asian and Italian cuisine that was quite unique.
Run by chef Oscar Pasinato and his wife Tracy, Buko Nero has stuck to its original concept and has a very short à la carte menu featuring its signature dishes, like the tau kwa tower. The interior remains a small chic black-and-white space with about half a dozen tables. We had the tau kwa tower to see if this dish had changed at all, and are pleased to report that it hasn’t—it is still a lovely combo of soft bean curd with crispy vegetables in a soy sauce dressing. Our other starter, smoked salmon with orange segments (part of a three-course set lunch), was light and tasty. Both our mains, penne with veal cheek and spinach and paprika encrusted salmon (in the set) were excellent, with the penne being particularly flavorsome. We split a dessert of warm chocolate and amaretto cake (in the set) which, like the rest of the meal, was very satisfying. Dinner features a more elaborate set with dishes different from lunch.
Because this restaurant is small, and delivers such great food, it is often booked up days in advance—we called a week ahead for our table. It’s worth the wait, and Buko Nero is definitely on our list of restaurants to dine at regularly.