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Monday, 24 June 2013


Ocha (3 Church Street, Hawthorn) is something of a suburban legend. The Japanese restaurant built up a huge following at its original location in Pakington Street, Kew - so much so that it relocated to its current location in the revamped Beehive complex in 2010, effectively doubling its cover size from 35 to 70 plus. Comfortably settled in next door to schmancy gastro-pub Barkers Wine Bar (old-man-pub the Beehive Hotel in another life), Ocha is still notoriously difficult to get a booking at. I haven't tried their degustation ($120.00 per head), held on the last Monday of each month - but I imagine it, too, would be very popular. Ocha has even released its own ranges of dressings and sauces for home use. MERCH! My, that is confidence personified. Bottled. Whatever.

There to celebrate a milestone birthday, five of us rocked up on a Thursday evening, armed with lots of nice wine (of course). A delightful young chap was our waiter, most smiley and helpful, and he even remembered my request made at the start of the evening to bring out candles in the birthday girl's dessert at the end. Props, buddy! Special occasions are so much lovelier when everything flows right. Doncha think?

We requested a 'feed me' style menu, (a) to remove the element of having to concentrate, and (b) because everything is so yummy, it's really hard to pick. According to its website, Ocha aims to explore "the domestic theatre of great food", offering "contemporary Japanese flavours meticulously prepared" where "traditional techniques are combined with playful imaginative touches". I would agree with this assessment overall.

Now, clearly, it being a momentous occasion and all, much wine was consumed on this night, and as a result, my pictures were rather on the crapola side. But here they are anyway - and take my word for it: everything was delicious. It's also surprisingly fun to eat. (Must be the theatre aspect?!)

Grilled scallop with Ocha's hollandaise sauce

Salmon canapes (wasabi-infused salmon tartare on a potato crisp, with flying fish roe)

Ebi dango (crunchy prawn dumpling rolled in rice flakes, with green tea salt)

Sushi & sashimi platter


Mirin-marinated chicken

Aaaaaaand the kicker (i.e. MY FAVOURITE, nom nom nom):

Teriyaki duck with bok choy ....ohhhhhh baby

Ocha admits to its dining room being an "understated affair" - and simple indeed it is. However, it is neutral-toned enough to impart a luxe feel, with white tablecloths, mod lighting and snappily-suited staff. In any case, you don't go there for the furnishings. Wink, wink! *

Decorative wall panelling

Mod lighting

Dividing curtain

In addition to its main restaurant, Ocha also offers a "2 go" option [linguistic shudder], a takeaway sister venue based at 64 Burwood Road, Hawthorn. Surely popular with locals if it's anything like the main restaurant, I haven't yet verified the excellence of Ocha 2 Go, but I'd like to. Some day. A girl can dream. In the meantime, I am quite happy to endorse Ocha Restaurant's fine dining deliciousness. Please go. But don't steal all the bookings.

*Although I would usually be lewd enough to comment on the gorgeousness of staff members (which is in fact mentioned on the restaurant's website), in this case, I am actually referring to the food. Shocker.

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