3 Church Street
I’d heard good things about Ocha back when it was still on Pakington Street in Kew, but it seems I dawdled for far too long and now they’ve long settled in their new premises in Hawthorn. Considering it’s closer to me, it’s not a bad outcome.
With its white tablecloths, the new setup is modern and sleek. Ocha reminds me of Pearl - making Asian food sexy, a seemingly insurmountable task but both faring well.
Ocha has a fairly traditional menu, and yet they put their own little twist on various dishes. We chose a selection of their starters, which were presented in delightfully neat individual portions - transforming it into our personalised tasting course.
Salmon Canapes - Salmon Tartare infused with Wasabi on a home-made Potato Chip Topped with Flying Fish Roe
The salmon tartare was fresh and soft, creamy with avocado and kewpie mayo, contrasting with crunchy cucumber and a thin crisp.
Miso Soup ($5)
A little heavyhanded with the seasoning, but I liked the coriander and the strips of beancurd skin.
Steamed Savoury Custard, with Snapper, Eel, Prawn, Chicken, Asparagus & Shiitake ($14.5)
The silken egg custard was smooth, but despite the generous description, the portion is fairly standard.
Beef Tataki - Carpaccio of Rare Grilled Porterhouse served with Ponzu Sauce ($18.5)
On the lean side, the beef wasn’t melt in your mouth, but had a nice sear and was decently tender.
Tofu Age - Deep Fried Cubes of Tofu Coated with Seaweed, Sesame and Plain Potato Starch in a Light Dashi Broth ($4)
I’ve been burnt enough times by Agedashi Tofu to be fairly wary of this dish, and yet time and again I can’t resist jumping back into the firing line. The beancurd within was silky smooth, the battered coating was quite light but was a little too gelatinous for my liking. Perfectly accompanied by the scallion slivers, light dashi broth with miniscule bits of ginger.
Prawn Dumpling with Green Tea Salt ($6.5 per piece)
The batter was delightfully crunchy, and it was hot and steaming within. I had hoped it would be bursting with fresh juicy prawns. And yet as i bit into it, I found myself pre-occupied with trying to discern what else was within the prawn mix. I was none the wiser at the end of it. The spanner crab tempura is a better bet.
Crab Tempura - Spanner Crab Meat wrapped in Nori served with Seaweed Salt ($6.5)
This was what I had hoped for the prawn dumpling. The batter could have been crisper and lighter, but once you bite through the seaweed, it’s packed with luscious fresh and sweet spanner crab morsels.
Dengaku - Grilled Eggplant Topped with Minced Chicken & Miso ($15)
I adore Nasu Dengaku, but it’s also a dish that is always gleaming with oil - a phenomenon noticeably missing here. The eggplant was a little dry and not silky soft. The minced chicken was an unusual addition but the miso topping was far too salty. Our least favourite dish of the lot.
Spicy Calamari Salad - Crunchy Calamari Legs tossed with Fresh Cut Chilli & Garlic ($25)
The calamari was very lightly battered and deliciously tender. A mouthwatering ponzu dressing accompanied the rocket and radicchio. The fresh chilli packed quite a punch and is not for the faint-hearted.
Ocha offers a ten course tasting menu ($120) on the last Monday of every month. I was quite pleased with the little bites and plates I was presented with. It made for a neat and elegant shared dining experience.