Bite-sized Summary: Sydney’s penchant for breakfast favourites like smashed avocado and brekkie burgers are given a delightful makeover with the addition of Japanese inspired components like dashi poached tomato and wasabi hollandaise. Created by Kenny Takayama, ex-head chef of Sydney institution Bill’s, Cafe Oratnek offers a menu that’ll keep you coming back for more.
Nestled in a leafy street, lined with little terrace houses, the only thing that defines Cafe Oratnek is a small wooden sign painted with a fork symbol and a seemingly constant flow of people. After having this on our radar for quite some time, we set out this past weekend to enjoy what we hoped would be a unique brunch experience.
After a short wait, we chose to sit outside in the courtyard, a bright and airy space surrounded by lush greenery, rustic walls and timber furniture. The Japanese fusion menu includes gentle adaptations of Australian breakfast classics, including a smashed avocado with dashi poached tomato on rye, soft herbs and goat cheese, and a brekkie burger with thick-cut bacon, poached eggs and wasabi hollandaise. For those seeking a hiatus from smashed avo, Oratnek also offers several dishes popular in Japan, including omurice; fried rice wrapped in a silky omelette, and kobe hayashi rice, a hearty dish consisting of wagyu beef, onion, mushroom and cheese with a thick demi-glace sauce.
Umami Mushroom Toast
Evidently, there were a lot of items on the menu that I was intrigued by, and so it was a difficult decision. First up, we chose one of the more fusion items; the sautéed mixed of wild umami mushrooms, miso, butter, goat cheese, chilli flakes and lemon balm on thick-cut toast ($16) with a poached egg (+$2.50).
The first bite was an absolute explosion of umami flavour. Delightfully rich and sweet miso butter, combined with the tang of goat cheese, a subtle tingle of chilli on the lips, and the tender yet firm textures of the mixed mushrooms was incredible. Honestly, I couldn’t fault this dish, perhaps a touch more chilli flakes would have elevated it for me, however ultimately it was a delicious and satisfying fusion of Japanese-inspired flavours.
Pork Katsu Sandwich
Now, we couldn’t visit Cafe Oratnek without trying their signature Katsu sandwich; 200g pork fillet katsu, cabbage, Japanese bbq (tonkatsu) sauce and sweet mustard. I’ve had Katsu sandwiches several times before so knew I’d love this, and Oratnek does a stellar version. Despite being a little awkward to eat due to the sheer thickness of the meat, there’s just one word to describe it – delicious! The tangy and sweet tonkatsu sauce pairs brilliantly with the mustard to create a flavour that is rich and complementary to the juicy pork.
One of my favourite parts of any good Katsu sandwich is all of the textural elements. White bread with not a speck of crust in the way of pillowy soft goodness, against the fresh, crisp cabbage, the crunch of the fried coating and the tender, succulent pork. This is done exceptionally well at Oratnek and I’d highly recommend trying this out, particularly if you’ve never had a katsu sandwich before.
Simply put, Cafe Oratnek is Japanese fusion done exceptionally well. Studded with inventive culture combinations like edamame hummus and wasabi mash, the menu sparks curiosity from the very first glance. Both the dishes we sampled exceeded expectations by highlighting beautiful, fresh produce with flavours that worked so harmoniously together that we were left wanting more. I’ll surely be returning to visit Cafe Oratnek and recommend it highly!
This post is based on an independently paid visit to Cafe Oratnek.
4 Pitt St, Redfern NSW 2016
(02) 8394 9550
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