Posted on Wednesday, 25th July 2012
Obikà is a concept mozzarella bar and restaurant that champions a variety of mozzarella di bufala hand picked from Italian producers accredited with a Protected Designation of Origin status. Obikà offers three different varieties of mozzarella, all of which are imported from Italy three times a week – classica, affumicata (naturally smoked) and burrata (deliciously creamy). Beyond the mozzarella, the menu at Obikà also includes cured meats, antipasti, pastas, pizzas and main courses.
Obikà has a number of restaurants in various locations around the world with two restaurants in the UK. One is located in Canary Wharf, and the second is the recently opened branch in South Kensington which I visited on its preview launch evening last week.
I wasn’t entirely enamoured by the design of the Obikà website, but don’t let this fool you as it did me for I soon realised that it did not entirely recreate the elegant and contemporary appeal of the restaurant. The décor was created by Italian architects Labics and fashioned on a style inspired by the sushi bars in Japan. The result is something funky and sleek with floor-to-ceiling windows that created a good sense of light and space.
The preview evening allowed us to try a range of dishes from the à la carte menu in the guise of a tasting menu, albeit with smaller portions. The prices indicated below are those listed on the à la carte menu. First up was a taste teaser of a shot of chilled organic tomato soup (£9.50). With a hint of aromatic basil running through it, this soup was decidedly delicious and fresh.
This was followed by a sea bass tartare (£8.95), the gentle flavour of which was delicately heightened by a lovely drizzling of truffle oil. Nicely cut, the fish also proved to be very fresh with a firm texture.
Next was the showcase platter of mozzarella di bufala classica, bufala affumicata and burrata (£4.95 each). All were tasty, but the most appetising of all was the burrata which oozed with a lovely, decadent creaminess.
A selection of cold cuts such as prosciutto crudo (£6.35), prosciutto cotto alla brace (£5.25) and mortadella di Prato (£5.45) was nice but not particularly memorable. An antipasti selection included a Sicilian aubergine casserole (£6.25) which was rich with flavour and some grilled artichokes (£6.35) that proved a little tough.
Scialatielli di Gragnano “pasta gentile” with zucchini, mint, pecorino and egg (£8.25) had been cooked al dente and was very pleasant with its hint of mint and nutty cheesy sauce, although the presentation proved to be quite dull.
Pizza with grilled veg, smoked mozzarella and parsley (£13.20) was decent. I would have preferred more sauce on the topping, but the dough turned out to be fantastic. Thin, crispy and light, it demonstrated an expert hand behind its making.
Grilled Devon rose fillet of beef (£19.80) was tender, tasty and nicely cooked. An accompaniment of roasted cherry tomatoes was very well done and burst with flavour and a summery goodness. However the roasted baby potatoes were sadly under cooked, and a balsamic vinegar, olive oil and rosemary emulsion was an oddity. With its acrid flavour, it did not work with the meat.
Chocolate and almond cake (small – £2.75, large – £5.05) resembled a brownie in texture and was moist and rich. To go with the cake was a delicious ricotta di bufala cream with honey and pine nuts that only hinted at sweetness and proved interesting with its slightly grainy texture.
Wines included a white of Falanghina Rami from di Majo Norante (£29.50) and a red of Taurasi DOCG from Feudi San Gregorio, both of which were easy on the palate.
The food at Obikà is simple and unfussy, so what it relies on is the seasonality and freshness of the produce for a sound and tasty menu. The restaurant did well on both these accounts on the preview night. However, the service was slightly disorganised and needed a bit of a polish. That said, it was only the first night and one would expect that it should improve. A review of the menu suggests that prices are reasonable for a South Kensington location with all mains coming in at less than £20. All round, a good bet. I would go again.
Food rating: 3.5/5
Price range: About £30 – £40 for three courses. Excludes drinks and service.