Pan Asian and Sushi Restaurant in Marylebone.
Indulging in Pan Asian cuisine at lunchtime almost feels excusable. It is, after all, healthy…
OKA is a small, independently owned group of restaurants scattered across London and the newest venue, in chi-chi Marylebone, was our destination for lunch the other day.
Squeakily clean inside, with sanitiser on every table and plenty of space in-between, we felt no need to brave sitting outside on New Cavendish Street, though if you DO prefer al-fresco at the moment, it’s perfectly possible.
The menu comprises a mixture of specials, sushi, nigiri and tataki and a shortish list of main dishes with all the regular sides that you’d expect.
The drinks menu includes a few cocktails, a well-priced wine and beer list and a few Japanese specials (sake, whiskey and plum wine). There are also teas and soft drinks for those who prefer not to drink alcohol, though I confess to enjoying a glass of sauvignon blanc along with my food.
House-made steamed dumplings from the specials menu seemed like a great idea on a rather damp and chilly day at the start of September. We picked the crab, prawn and chives to share. Good soft and light rice paper wrappers revealed a generous filling with just a bit of a spicy kick.
Our second ‘special’ turned out to be my favourite dish of the day. I like to think I’m a purist regarding sushi dishes and this definitely ‘fusion’ truffle salmon roll wouldn’t have been an immediate choice. It’s an uramaki roll (inside out) filled with crunchy panko, avocado, cucumber and mooli and topped with fine slices of seared salmon, crispy fried onion and truffle mayo. It sounds so wrong – but it tasted so right – we both loved the contrasting textures of the panko, cucumber, mooli and salmon and the complementary flavours.
We shared the Nigiri platter from the main menu which comes with a mix of salmon and avocado, yellowtail, seared tuna and shichimi, seared salmon and chef’s choice (for us, a classic salmon).
Bulgogi beef from the selection of main dishes was a well-executed classic dish of tender marinated fillet beef stir-fried with onions, asparagus and edamame and served on steamed rice. Plenty for the two of us to share, it was a comforting dish that I’d happily order again.
Miso Black Cod with citrus ponzu was our other main course. Black cod isn’t cod at all but a fish that is also called ‘ sablefish’. It can live for over 90 years and unlike regular cod, it has a high fat content and is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, just like wild salmon. Miso Black Cod is a dish that was invented (I believe) by the head chef at Nobu. The version that I have normally enjoyed has more of a caramelised miso glaze – here the soft buttery fish was served with a sauce-like miso coating that was nicely caramelised at the edge but soft towards the centre of the fish. Still delicious – we were impressed by the generous portion size.
We also enjoyed a side order of sticky rice and some stir-fried greens with garlic. Both perfectly cooked and a good complement for the fish.
By the time we reached dessert, both of us felt we’d overindulged a bit – but OKA has the solution in the form of a mixed mochi platter which comes with mango, coconut, and green tea mochi, each split in half so perfect for sharing.
OKA restaurant Marylebone generally has a special lunch deal so it’s a perfect venue for picking up a light bite when you are shopping. And, there’s plenty to make this worth an evening visit too.
19 New Cavendish Street,
0207 486 4388
For more Marylebone Restaurants do check our roundup of recommended places to eat. We update it regularly and if any of the restaurants appeal, you should find a full review on the site.