what?! a "no white bread, no white rice, no white sugar" policy?! all-natural ingredients without artifical additivies, chemicals, colorings, flavourings, MSG and trans-fats?? AND 50% of the menu is vegetarian?
that sounds like planting roses on mars - impossible. but it is impossibly true.
I was invited some weeks back to a food tasting session with ONAKA, short form for Optimum Nutrition And Kitchen Arts. I'm guessing the 'kitchen' bit stems from ONAKA's history where it first started out as a cooking school, but that's not the important part. the important part is the food. The restaurant serves "Conscious Cuisine" - a merger of of asian culinary cultures and traditions with modern western influence with ONLY wholesome and selective organic ingredients.
it sure doesn't sound like the food can be any delicious right? Truth is, i have my reservations after hearing all that. And you know the notion where healthy food is usually more bland, not as nice right?
I put my taste buds to the test. and honestly.. very honestly. I WAS SPEECHLESS.
the team at ONAKA prepared a feast for us, each dish is designed for sharing amongst a table full of people. their belief is that joy of eating does not solely come from food alone, it is the company at the table, the sharing and the camaraderie within a table of dinners that makes the experience memorable. our table of 8 mothers + a kid had a very filling meal filled with loads of laughter and gasps. simply because some of the food are soooooo mind blowing.
starter - asian hummus. i don't normally order this so i really can't compare but i was surprised to find it pleasant and i really loved the olives. it's served with whole meal pita crisps, it is soooo healthy!
this is a VEGETARIAN sashimi. can you guess what it is?!?! looks like tuna right?
It's watermelon, and probably the most mind boggling thing that i have ever eaten in my entire life. First, you can't quite tell is watermelon. second, when i put it into my mouth, it has that slimy, cold texture of sashimi. third, it tastes/smells like fish when you put into your mouth and only when you bite it, the sweetness and crunch of the watermelon oozes out. i was... SPEECHLESS. my mind went blank for a moment and all my senses went askew. I simply couldn't comprehend how watermelon could taste like that.. well, i found out it was a sous vide watermelon. Amazing thing. If you ever want to know how sashimi taste like without trying the real thing, i have to say this is 90% close (before you sink your teeth into that crunchiness). unforgettable. and honestly, takes a bit getting used to.
Nicoise paper roll, inspired by the vietnamese roll. This is served with real tuna! finally my senses are not being cheated. This is extremely light, refreshing and the vegetables made it crunchy and delightfully good. we were joking that the black crumbs are crushed oreo cookies, but they are actually dehydrated olives. totally interesting!
tofu avocado salad, the tofu are brined and crumbled to look like feta cheese and served mixed with a citrusy sauce which is light and refreshing. I love avocardos so i easily ate a huge portion of this yummy salad.
hot and sour prawn rice noodles, or what i call atas hokkien mee. this is gluten free and neither hot or sour by my standards tho. Interestingly, the noodles tasted very light and i feel like i could stomach the entire plate easily and more.
roasted mushroom soba - springy buckwheat soba noodles served with mushrooms, and truffle aroma. I find this a little salty for my taste buds but still pretty yummy.
barley rissotto paired with mussels, scallops and prawns with lime foam. let's just say i never quite look at barley the same way now.
at this point, i was.. how much more do we have to stomach?! turns out.. loads more!
duck pancake - this taste like peking duck but without the fuss of wrapping and all, made with tumeric crepe, duck confit, five spice and drizzled with orange caramel. it was easily the hottest favourite among everyone seated at the table.
Pear & Salmon, which turned out for be an excellent pairing. It's served with a soft boiled egg on the side, spring onions, pine nuts, seasame and soy dressing. To enjoy this dish fully, you have to break the egg and mix everything up.
it was a delicious, lovely mish mash of things. The crunch from the pear and the softness of the salmon complimented each other perfectly and everyone had seconds or more. I swear some of us are scraping the plates clean!
at this juncture, i was 95% full and my seams were bursting..but there were some more food!!
miso lamb with shimeji mushrooms and carrots. this reminded me of the springbok that i ate in south africa. if you have the notion that all lamb are gamey, you must try this. It's tender, soft and totally no hint of the lamb odour. you wouldn't have guessed it is lamb at all.
pumpkin sea bass where the sea bass is crusted with roasted pumpkin seeds. it tasted ok for me but i'm seriously more of a teochew steamed fish kinda person when it comes to fishes like this.
portobello mushrooms with grilled vegetables, cheese and quinoa. i ran out of positive adjectives. haha.
tender, juicy beef served with sweet potato and pumpkin mash. this is not on the menu as the beef requires 48hrs preparation work but it was extremely lovely and very palatable.
pineapple rice made with organic brown rice and organic quinoa. i was already so full, i only took a few small bites of this but i found the spices flavouring a bit too much for me and its a little dry.
sophia, daughter of mummy irene was served a special kids meal of pineapple rice and skewers.
look at these hardworking mummies.
we ended dinner with a lovely dessert - homemade banana ice cream served with nuts, almonds and decorated with a pretty dehydrated banana.
it was a lovely dinner with loads of variety and us ladies/mummies had a lot of fun!
Remember i mentioned about the "conscious cuisine" that they serve? i say, they sure put in a dash of care and love too. They also cater to special dietary needs: gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, and vegetarian and if you do have family or friends that has these special dietary requirements, this is a good place to dine at.
ONAKA make delicious food healthy and healthy food delicious.
A group shot with our host, Rosalind, Jason, Benson.
L to R: Benson, Qiuxian, Delphine, Chermaine, Lynn, Rosalind, Irene, Ai, Estella, me & Jason.
a big thank you for hosting us!
ONAKA @ ARC
460 Alexandra Road
#01-32 PSA Building
Mon to Fri - 11:30am to 10pm
Sat & Sun - Brunch from 10am - 4pm, Dinner from 6pm onwards.
Tel: 6270 2012
Disclaimer: I was invited for a food review session with ONAKA and all opinions are of my own.