Have you ever had a Fuji apple and hojicha (Japanese green tea) crumble, a rice burger or chicken with banana and strawberry? Oratnek has already made a name for itself with its delicate but unpretentious Japanese cafe cuisine, but as of last week, it’s taking on dinner with these interesting-sounding dishes.
Oratnek Overtime is a Thursday and Friday night banquet by owner and chef Kenny Takayama and his kitchen squire Yuji Oikubo. “Our concept is the same – seasonal, changing every month and Japanese fusion. Not super Japanese; it’s Western-based but with some Japanese hints in it,” says Takayama. The philosophy may be the same but the scope has certainly changed. Oikubo, another ex-bills chef, has more input here on a menu that makes Oratnek’s usual Japanese twists more playful and ambitious.
The apple crumble uses a hollowed custard apple filled with honey and cream cheese, while the crumble and anglaise sauce are made with hojicha. “Softness, sweetness, crunchiness; this is very Oratnek,” Takayama says. That perplexing chicken dish is marinated in a blend of miso, banana and strawberry then grilled and served with charred Japanese pickles. “Instead of putting sugar or sourness in, we take the natural sugar and sourness from banana and strawberry. It sounds really weird but tastes really nice. If the menu didn’t say [banana and strawberry] you wouldn't know.”
The chicken comes after the rice burger (two grilled patties of sushi rice sandwiching soft-shell crab) in a set banquet of six dishes, which for $50–55 is a pretty excellent deal. While the food menu is set (and also includes beef with blue cheese and beetroot; shimeji mushroom rice; and a raw scallop salad), there are a few loose ends for Takayama and Oikubo to tie up with the drinks. Asahi and Sapporo will be available but Takayama is still deciding whether to include sake in the set price and whether to have aperitifs or dessert wines. Either way there’ll be sake and BYO available.
Oratnek Overtime is on Thursday and Friday nights. Bookings can be made in Oratnek’s courtyard for 6pm or inside the cafe for 6pm or 8pm.