64 Burwood Road, Hawthorn
Having visited Ocha2go (Ocha’s more casual, cheaper offshoot restaurant) some time ago while in school, I returned with D for a quick Japanese fix. The place is quite small, you order your food at the front counter and serve yourself cutlery, plates etc. I’m happy with having canisters of cutlery on each table, but somehow picking up your own plate (such as small bowls if you’re sharing, or little dishes for soy sauce) seemed a little too much like school camp for me.
Nonetheless it was a pleasant atmosphere, most of the other diners were young couples and families, happily tucking into plates of sushi and bowls of noodles in steaming broth.
How fitting the painting on the wall seemed: it had been pouring with rain for the past three days, and D pointed out how similar they looked to the view we had looking out of the car windscreen at night, with the lights of the road blurred and mingling.
The menu offers a wide range of small, medium and larger plates, all at reasonable value. I wanted to try some sushi but D wasn’t in the mood, so we settled on an entree and two mains to share. The Tatsuta chicken was marinated in garlic, soy, ginger, dusted in potato flour and fried. I think I would have preferred pieces of chicken marinated and then grilled without the potato flour, but these were nice all the same.
The stalwart of any Japanese meal, miso soup. Since I was young I’ve always loved the clouds of miso you can make by stirring your chopstick through the soup. Even now, as an adult, I was occupied with this little task for some time before I realised it was getting cold and hastened to drink it.
The thinly sliced beef with a sukiyaki sauce, vegetables, tofu, mungbean noodles and rice was my favourite from the night. I enjoyed the thin, tangy sauce and the dish had a healthy mix of vegies. I was particularly intrigued with the mungbean noodles, which were translucent and had a chewy, gummy texture that I enjoyed. I just wish there were more of them!
Our final dish was the Unagi, char grilled eel fillet with a sweet soy sauce. D had never had eel before and said he didn’t mind it, but had no point of comparison to tell whether it was well done. I thought it was a good rendition of unagi, but I would have preferred more of the sweet sauce to mix into the rice. In the end we transferred the rice from the unagi to the sukiyaki bowl to soak up the rest of that sauce.
In all a quick, casual and tasty meal at Ocha2go, which offers some of the best and more affordable Japanese in the area. I have more good news on the Japanese front: just a few days after eating here, Mum booked us a table at the real Ocha, so I’m incredibly excited about there too.