“To me a cafe, especially daytime for breakfast and lunch, has to be bright and welcoming,” says Alger Liu.
He’s talking about his new Richmond cafe Otto, which is a neutral-toned and modern space with marble tabletops and beige leather booths, offset by smooth concrete floors and exposed overhead ventilation.
Liu teamed up with Allen Goh and Jason Pribadi to create the new Bridge Road eatery, which opened in September last year.
Head chef Pribadi spent time cooking at Instagram-friendly cafe White Mojo, and in the Singapore Airlines kitchens.
At Otto – an acronym for “ode to the original” – he’s making Japanese-inspired dishes. Avocado is combined with white miso, served on a thick piece of multigrain toast with wasabi peas, shreds of nori and a delicately poached egg.
A breakfast sharing plate is designed for two, and includes egg custard with mushrooms, kaiserfleisch (smoked pork loin, similar to bacon), black pudding, trout rillettes, a soba noodle salad, vanilla French toast and a scotch egg.
“It’s for people who can’t decide what they want to eat,” says Pribadi. “It’s got the sweets, it’s got the meats – and it’s got the signature dish, which is our egg custard.”
The savoury custard is paired with king oyster and shitake mushrooms, shaved black truffle, and fried enoki mushrooms on top for crunch. It’s also available as a single serve on rye toast.
Lighter options include a tempura miso-tofu bowl with edamame, carrot, radish and optional chicken or salmon, and a salad of charred broccolini, sautéed leafy greens, brown rice, sunflower seeds, tamari almonds and a sesame dressing.
Coffee beans are from local roastery Padre, with espresso, cold brew and batch brew on the board.
Liu is especially proud of his coffee machine, a Slayer Espresso Steam LP, which made its Australian debut in August.
“You can eliminate a lot of variables in terms of temperature, pressure, and the volume extraction,” he says. He says having the ability to pre-soak coffee grounds in the machine before extraction means a more even spread of water through the espresso shot, and more uniform, consistent coffees.
Otto also does a black sesame latte, which has a sweet, nutty flavour. Milk comes from Melbourne micro-dairy St David’s, tea is from The Tea Nomad and there’s Prana chai, too.
3/189 Bridge Road, Richmond
(03) 9428 8929
Mon to Sat 7am–4pm
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on January 21, 2020. Menu items may have changed since publication.