Restaurants with food that impress are aplenty but those that cause me to reflect on my eating habits and cooking are few. Here’s one which not only offers delectable, healthy meals but one that challenges you to eat consciously and to be mindful of the food that you are consuming – Onaka @ ARC.
ONAKA stands for Optimum Nutrition And Kitchen Arts. Headed by head chef Jason Vito, he and his team are committed to bring creativity, passion and personality to the table so as to make every dining experience a unique and an authentic one. They use all-natural ingredients in the preparation of their food and that also means no artificial additives, chemicals, colorings, flavorings, MSG, and trans-fats. Will such food be available in a world that has gone artificial and highly processed? The answer is an absolute YES. Here’s my recent food-tasting experience at ONAKA.
Hosted by Chef Jason, Benson and Rosalind, a group of mommies and I were led to a long table where we were to experience Conscious Cuisine that evening. First up, the appetizers. The starters above showed off ONAKA’s thoughtfulness and creativity in designing the dishes. Who would have thought that the tuna-like sashimi is actually their signature Watermelon Sashimi (top left) topped with agar wasabi “tobiko”. It took some of us quite an amount of time to figure out what it actually was and we didn’t really quite get it right until Chef Jason revealed. Then, there was Asian Hummus (top right) which is made of organic chickpeas. Chef Jason used hazelnut and sesame oil to add flavour to it and to give an Asian spin to the dish.
The Tofu Avocado Salad was Chef Jason’s version of the Greek salad and I love it that it was light, healthy and without feta cheese (sorry, I’m not fond of it). The addition of walnut and hazelnut adds a nice crunch when you consume of the dish and the tamarind dressing adds a nice touch to the salad. The Nicoise Paper Roll reminds me of the vietnamese roll except that this one has fresh tuna, cucumber, French beans, herbed egg-salad, dehydrated olives and aioli. Quite a lot of stuff in the roll, eh?
Next, the main course, the carbs. We were thinking that we would be served just one dish but lo and behold, four dishes came out. You should have seen our expression. Amazed! Thankfully, as Chef Jason explained, those mains were meant to be shared as they want to bring back the joy of communal eating to their diners. And that’s what we did. From top left, (in clockwise direction) we had Hot & Sour Prawn Rice Noodles, Maritime Barley Risotto,Pineapple Rice and Roasted Mushroom Soba. Of the four, I like the first one the most since I find it hard to resist the succulent queen prawns that were cooked together with shiitake, Asian herbs, chili lime in spicy shrimp broth. Simply exotic! I thought the Maritime Barley Risotto was creatively designed by using barley to replace the commonly-used Arborio, thus resulting in a light carbo dish.
Proceeding from the noodles and grains, we had proteins, meat! The servers placed about six meat dishes and we were overwhelmed. Chef should have informed us so that we could pace ourselves! From top left in clockwise direction, we had Duck Pancake which I adore. It reminds me of Peking duck, just that this is actually duck confit cooked with five spice and orange caramel and wrapped in tumeric crepes. Wonderful combination, you think? We also had Portobello Mushrooms with quinoa and grilled vegetables topped with cheese (technically it’s not a meat dish but oh well!), Pumpkin Sea Bass and Miso Lamb. These were not all. The servers brought in more: 48 hrs Beef and Pear & Salmon.
You have read it right. It’s called 48hrs beef because the meat was cooked slowly with tender loving care for two days with red wine reduction and you could imagine the tenderness of the meat as one took a bite. In addition, it was served with mashed pumpkin and sweet potato and who would have thought that this simple combination could be so inviting to the palate. I couldn’t stop eating it. Totally heavenly!
The last dish which I want to highlight (because it is my favourite!) is the Pear and Salmon. What you have on the plate are seared 47°C Norwegian salmon paired with Asian pear julienne and soft-boiled egg. Omega-3 overdose? Perhaps! The way to eat it is to mix everything together. It may look messy but it definitely tastes delicious!
As you can see, there is a good variety of food in the menu and there is something for everyone. We were privileged to have the chefs explain the various dishes that were laid out before us. In doing so, they helped us to take notice and enjoy the unique aroma, flavour, texture, taste, selection of ingredients, presentation of food, and understand its nutritional health benefits. That session wasn’t just food tasting; it was food education.
Before we left, we were treated to dessert and who could resist this – Brownie with banana & cardamon ice-cream and topped with a slice of dehydrated banana. We were pampered, to the max.
ONAKA has created a wonderful and enriching dining experience for us. Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland. With creativity and knowledge of the ingredients used, the chefs at ONAKA have proved that healthy delicious food can be made. Their passion for what they believe in was clearly demonstrated in their sharing with us. Indeed ONAKA made delicious food healthy and healthy food delicious.
It is one thing to share with you my experience via this means but it is another if you could go down and taste the food yourself. The prices are reasonable for such a cuisine and I am certain that I would visit them again.
Another thing that impresses me is their thoughtfulness in catering a meal for Sophie, Irene‘s daughter. She was provided with a bowl of Pineapple Rice with Soy Melange Skewer and ice-cream for dessert. How sweet of them!
ONAKA @ ARC
460 Alexandra Road #01-32 PSA Building Singapore 119963
Mon to Fri – 11:30am to 10pm
Afternoon Tea – 3pm to 5pm
Sat & Sun Brunch – 10am to 4pm
Dinner – 6pm & last order 9:30pm
Mon to Sun Happy Hours Promotion – 3pm to 8pm
Tel: 6270 2012
Disclosure: This review was due to an invitation from ONAKA @ ARC. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are my own.