“Like Sex Or Music, Or A Good Nap In The Afternoon” Si Dining’s Alessio Rasom On The Passion And The Pleasure Of Great Food

Chef Alessio Rasom in Danang

Meet Alessio Rasom. He’s the outlier Italian chef who has made the tiny village of Vallonga in the Dolomites and the bustling city of Danang, Vietnam and his restaurant, Si Dining, the twin poles of his culinary journey.

Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt

Along the way, guided by a host of illustrious mentors, and the words of his culinary heroes, like Anthony Bourdain, Alessio has forged an iconoclastic culinary philosophy where passion and pleasure are paramount, both of which are in full effect at Si Dining, Danang.

“I think Bourdain had a point when he said: ‘Italians and Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese see food as part of a larger, more essential and pleasurable part of daily life like sex or music, or a good nap in the afternoon,'” Chef Alessio Rasom smiles.

Chef Alessio Rasom's memories of his hometown of Vallonga
Chef Alessio Rasom remembering Vallonga, the stuff of quintessential Italy – with reminders of heritage, craftsmanship, and an unhurried way of life.

A Haven Of Peace

Alessio was raised in Vallonga, a village of only 100 people seemingly frozen in time. There, his family ran a bakery that had been churning out delectable breads for over a century using generations-old techniques. 

Certain moments have remained indelibly in his memory.

“Walking through the streets, getting a little frostbitten in winter, the smell of pine trees, or freshly baked bread from my father’s bakery or my grandmother’s tomato spaghetti that she would make on Sundays at lunchtime,” Chef Alessio reminisces about Vallonga, which he still calls his “haven of peace.”

This is the stuff of quintessential Italy – where reminders of heritage, craftsmanship, and an unhurried way of life greet you at every cobblestoned turn.

And, naturally, food was ever-present. 

Bold and striking, Si Dining restaurant is a lot like Alessio Rasom's cuisine.
At Si Dining, there are rustic tables and reclaimed wood, boldly colored walls and abstract art.

“My parents even met in a hotel kitchen!” Alessio laughs. “My father was the hard-working disciplinarian, mom was the artistic, free-spirited sous chef.” In time, they would take over his great grandfather’s bakery, called El Pech.

Despite that, Alessio’s parents hoped he’d step away from the family business to become an engineer, a more stable and respected profession. 

He had other plans.

Understandably, having grown up to “the daily smell of fresh breads and croissants, and fantastically healthy, colorful food,” he became obsessed with cooking from an early age. After countless battles, his parents finally relented and Alessio went off to hospitality school, launching what would be an illustrious culinary career.

Si Dining's homemade spaghetti with tomato and galangal sauce, Buddha hand confit, and pecorino and basil.
Si Dining’s homemade spaghetti with tomato and galangal sauce, Buddha hand confit, and pecorino and basil.

Achieving Acceptance

Inheriting his father’s work ethic, he landed stints with MICHELIN-starred culinary legends across Europe like Andrea Berton and Alfio Ghezzi at Trussardi alla Scala, Mauro Colagreco at Mirazur and Nobuaki Matsuhisa at Kinobu. “And so many other great chefs and human beings made a big impression on me, like Eric Frechon, Paolo Donei, Peter Brunel, Stefano Ghetta, and William Ledeuil who treated me like his own son, and gave me so much,” Alessio remembers.

He absorbed everything he could from everyone he worked under: about integrity, innovation and freedom in the kitchen.

And eventually, all that helped to gain his parents’ approval. “I guess they only truly accepted my career choice and started being proud of me when I could invite them to Trussardi alla Scala, which had 2 MICHELIN stars at that time, and where I had been working for 2 years,” he recalls.

But a real turning point was an opportunity in Vietnam that allowed him to synthesize his fundamentally Italian training with the vibrant flavors and ingredients of Southeast Asia.

And he remembered to name his first restaurant in Danang El Pech, after his grandfather’s bakery.

Chef Alessio Rasom in Danang, the place that gave him new horizons.
Alessio Rasom in Danang, a city that offered “a completely new horizon.”

Discovering A Completely New Horizon

Danang offered Alessio “a completely new horizon” with quality ingredients like fresh herbs, fish and poultry. “But what impressed me the most is the inspirational complexity of taste, and the innate balance in Vietnamese dishes,” he adds.

But that first restaurant was short-lived, due to the complications inherent with opening around the time of the pandemic. So, Si Dining is his second shot at sharing his passion for produce prepared without boundaries. 

The restaurant is as dazzling as Danang itself. There are rustic tables and reclaimed wood, boldly colored walls and abstract art. Striking and playful, the appearance is mirrored in the food.

As Alessio puts it, “I am guided by the products. I use Vietnamese ingredients in Italian recipes and vice versa. But that’s not to be trendy. What matters is the final taste and quality.” So, his tomato sauce with homemade spaghetti has both basil and galangal, “because it simply tastes better than the original Italian one.”

Fittingly, Si comes from ‘Si Mê,’ which means ‘infatuation’ in Vietnamese. “Which is also the motto for our daily lives here: to work with extreme passion.”

And because of that passion, this is something, you suspect, he would be doing with or without a restaurant. 

“I love to cook. I like to work with the best ingredients available, and turn them into simple dishes; and add great wine, good music, warm lighting, to make everyone feel good, to enjoy the time together…” he shrugs. “Si Dining is a restaurant where I try to get as close as possible to that.”

Chef Alessio's Si Dining provides an escape from the predictable among restaurants in Danang.
Chef Alessio’s Si Dining provides an escape from the predictable.

Si Dining Is An Escape From The Predictable

Because of all that, his restaurant has added to the richness of places to eat in Danang. And with MICHELIN throwing its chubby arm around the city this year as the first Nobu Hotel in Vietnam gets ready to open, it feels like the Danang is only just getting into gear. 

“Although there are challenges right now for high-end restaurants, Danang is developing very fast, and it will undoubtedly be a major foodie destination in the coming years,” Alessio nods.

As it does so, Si Dining has already begun providing an escape from the predictable. A meal designed by this outlier is a master class in culinary authenticity – whether the dish hails from Italy or Vietnam is almost irrelevant. 

What matters is Alessio’s obsessive pursuit of quality ingredients, adroit flavor pairings, and beautifully executed preparations – hallmarks shaped by both his proud regional heritage and his boundary-defying journey.

“Try the Madai Fish with passion fruit, sesame, basil and olive oil, with a glass of Francesco Miklus Tocai 2019,” he recommends, to understand the way he sees food. “Or the Bo Kho Ravioli, with ‘chao sauce,’ coffee and capers, and a glass of Fuoripista Pinot Grigio Foradori 2022.”

Si Dining's Madai Fish ceviche with coco and passion fruit, olive oil, sesame, and tía tô.
Madai fish ceviche with coco and passion fruit, olive oil, sesame, and tía tô.

“Take A Deep Breath, Have A Glass Of Wine And Enjoy The Moment”

And, just like it’s impossible for him to forget Vallonga, with its quaint streets and pine trees, and the smell of freshly baked bread and his grandmother’s spaghetti, you feel he’s committing every second of this part of his culinary journey to memory too.

“Take a deep breath, have a glass of wine and enjoy the moment,” Alessio recommends. 

Photos for The Dot Magazine by Vlad Shatilo @vladshatilo


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