Sunday, March 09, 2008
Eating Out: Ocha
156 Pakington Street, Kew
Ph: 03 9853 6002
Despite there being quite a few blog posts waiting patiently in the wings for their turn to be completed and posted, I absolutely HAVE to bring Ocha to the front of the list.
Back in November I threw a post up about a book I'd read by Ruth Reichl called Garlic and Sapphires, in which she described some incredibly good sashimi she had eaten. I mentioned that reading that paragraph had born a desire in me to give this a try. After speaking with the Tummy Rumblers on the best way to do this they suggested Ocha would be the best place for me to break my sashimi cherry.
Mel made a booking back in January - and last night was the night. I'll link to her post when it's up, as I know Mel will write about it all so much better than me (and I can't quite remember everything that we had) plus there may be pictures. But here's what I remember:
We shared a sushi and sashimi combo to get the meal started. The first plate came out - succulent pink pieces of tuna and salmon, plus delicate white fish pieces, that I can't remember what they were. Then the same fish on small blocks of rice, plus tuna rolls and grilled eel sushi. After getting some instructions on how to tackle this I took a piece of tuna in my chopsticks, smeared a few dots of wasabi and dunked it in my soy sauce, took a deep breath, and popped it in my mouth. I don't really know what I expected, but I know I was NOT expecting anything this divine. The tuna was firm and soft all at once, without any real "fishy" taste (like you get from that horrid tinned stuff), and the bite was over much too soon. "Hmm, this is interesting" I say to myself. Next up I repeat the process with the white-fleshed fish (Mel, Danny, what the HECK was that again?!). Oh my... would you believe this was even better?! Definitely my favourite of the three. Last of the "pieces of fish on their own" was salmon, which you may remember I tackled for the first time last year. This salmon left anything I tried then for dead!
Next up was the sashimi draped elegantly over little blocks of rice. After receiving some instruction from Danny (dip them fish-side down in the soy so the rice doesn't fall apart) I gamely kept on chewing. THIS is sashimi? Why on earth have I avoided it for so long?! A tuna roll went the same way, followed by grilled eel... oh bliss.
The next dish came out - a fan of incredibly thinly sliced, incredibly rare beef arranged in a fan around a plate with a small salad in the middle, a dollop of marinated daikon (is that what it was Mel?), soy sauce and a squirt of lemon juice. When it comes to red meat I'm a medium-well-done kinda gal, but this... wow... who would have thought of combining soy and lemon juice? Absolute bliss.
For my main I reverted to something a little more tame - at the time of ordering I had not yet tried the sashimi, so thought I should order something safe, just in case things didn't work out. The mirin chicken was just divine - served on a bed of salad leaves with halved cherry tomatoes and shredded red cabbage, a light dressing with a drizzle of something akin to kecap manis (?), and I'm sure I tasted a hint of wasabi in there somewhere too. Just lovely. Danny ordered Patagonian something... delicious white fish that fell apart as soon as you looked at it, while Mel ordered the green tea soba with sliced chicken... had a taste of that too, it was beautiful.
The guys said that my first taste of sashimi should be the best sashimi I can possibly get. I'd have to say that Ocha fit that bill perfectly. It's been a long time since I enjoyed a meal out so much.
When Mel and Danny post their review I'll be sure to provide the link. I hope the pictures they took turn out ok - Ocha is lit quite dimly lit. Also $5 corkage per person seems a bit steep. But hey, it's all part of the experience, right? I can't wait for my next visit.