Friday, May 20, 2011

Onaka, Rochester Park

Once again armed with a discount voucher, we ventured into the unknown called Rochester Park to hunt down this strange beast called Onaka. Optimum Nutrition And Kitchen Arts (also meaning stomache [お腹] in japanese o_O) is an organic cafe which also holds cooking classes to cook said organic food in organic ways. So how organic will our dinner be ... we were about to find out.

The cafe was almost empty - I noted with some apprehension that the staff outnumbered patrons (usually not the best of signs). However true to the fourleggedfoodie spirit of trying anything new once and keeping an open mind (or two), we plonked ourselves down at the outdoor seating area.

Reading the menu is like reading a guide book to a foreign land: an invitation to somewhere strange and (potentially) exciting. Organic food for me always meant an elitist and obscure culmination of unpronounceable food ingredients. Onaka fortunately attempts to break these down into somewhat more regular-human terms.

Deciding to start with something refreshing and different, we ordered the Chilled Watermelon ($6) (chilled watermelon puree, spicy tomato juice, zucchini pearls, garlic flakes). It's really a gazpacho, or "cold soup" as described by our waitress.

Was certainly a good change from the hot soup starters we were used to. Every spoonful was extremely flavourful, although the sourness of the tomato seemed to overwhelm the watermelon flavour. The garlic twang started to put me off after about the 4th or 5th spoonful. The chunks of sundried tomatos could have been a little softer too - was a bit out of place in what we hoped was a smooth concoction.

Then we also had the Multi V Aglio ($16), as we both felt the need for some Vitamin-laden organic goodness. This was balsamic glazed vegetables, garlic, dehydrated chilli red peppers, olive oil, parsley, organic linguine spaghetti (how can you not have linguine?!)

This, as it turns out, would be the best dish we've had that night. The chunks of veggies were roasted to near-perfection - most memorable were the eggplant: hard and firm on the outside, but soft inside. The flavours were amazing for this, coupled with the abundance of olive oil. We kind of wished it was made spicy (maybe provide a small shaker of chilli flakes?).

The only things I remembered were the awesomeness of the eggplant and the sheer copiousness of olive oil. The eggplant were just ... rather perfectly grilled / roasted, to an interesting consistency of firm yet soft when chewing - it's kinda like chewing through air pockets, like a tofu fry. And the olive oil, jesus christ, they must have emptied a bottle in there, because there was so much of it!!

I had the [quote]BIG PLATE[/unquote] of Gratin of Portabella ($22) - portobello mushroom stack, roast peppers, zucchini, aubergine, sundried tomatoes, formaggio di buffala, basilico, napolitana sauce, herbed quinoa. Whoa ... that's a lot of ingredients on that menu, and since it's a big plate, I was hoping for a massive platter of portobello goodness!

Well ... not quite what I had in mind. I guess the phrase portobello mushroom stack was misleading - while I thought it implied a stack of multiple mushrooms, what came was a stack with a single mushroom, and basically a single piece of every other ingredient D:

Flavour was pretty good I suppose, the cheese tomato mushroom zucchini aubergine layer with the napolitana sauce was quite an experience, with every chew a combination of so many different textures and flavours. I guess the only sad thing is that after 6 bites all of them was gone. The herbed quinoa - kinda like couscous - was not bad as a filler but don't go expecting an actual serving of carbohydrates.

When this came to our table, I went "Oh." This was literally a "big plate" - not much on it though! Felt slightly cheated, but must say it was quite tasty and you can tell the ingredients are of good quality.

They had asked if we wanted dessert but after the meal we were not convinced enough to pay $7ish for what I assumed would be a tiny piece of organic cake. We left still slightly peckish and I have to shamefully admit we had a post-dinner snack at Old Chang Kee afterwards rendering our healthy dinner unnecessary. I guess as an organic, healthy place it did do the job well - maybe leaving hungry was the intention!

HGW Link :
Rating (out of 4) :

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