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Review: Obikà Mozzarella Bar & Restaurant (South Kensington)

BY Boon Koh
Published 22 July 2012
Our Review Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Obikà is a stylish restaurant concept from Italy, and has opened its newest branch in South Kensington in London. Started in 2004, the Obikà concept focuses on traditional Italian food, especially Mozzarella di Bufala, that great Italian cheese that sometimes doesn’t get the respect that it gets because it’s often crudely used  on sub-par American style pizzas.

The Obikà Mozzarella Bar & Restaurant in South Ken is only a few minutes’ walk away from the station, tucked in a quiet residential street in the heart of Chelsea. The décor is sleek and modern, perfect more for a romantic or slow dinner. At the bar downstairs, there are glass containers of three different types of mozzarella (more on that later!), which really does whet your appetite! Upstairs, there is a quieter dining area.

I was here to try their tasting menu, which is a selection of a range of dishes from the a la carte menu, and presented a great way to test out both their mozzarella based and non-mozzarella based Italian menu.

First up was two small starters to whet the appetite  – a Crema Di Pomodoro Biologico ‘La Motticella’, which was a shot of chilled organic tomato soup, with a hint of basil. Smooth, refreshing, and full of the tomato flavour that hinted at things to come.

The second small starter was a Tartare di Spigtola al Tartufo, a sea bass tartare with black truffle. This seemed a bit more fusion, and the unique black truffle flavour went well with the bland, but firm texture of the sea bass.

Then came two huge platters of what I love about Italian food: Cheese, and Ham! On one plate was a selection of Italian salami – prosciutto crudo (aged 20 months!), prosciutto cotto alla brace, and mortadella di prato. Served with a caponata of aubergine, almonds, and pine nuts, and some artichokes on the side, it was delicious, especially the aged prosciutto crudo, which was full of flavour but not salty at all.

The highlight of the evening, of course, was the Degustazione di Mozzarelle, three different types of mozzarella to try. There was the classic Mozzarella di Bufala (middle), but also a smoked Bufala Affumicata (left), and a Burrata, which is a special kind that is a mixture of cheese and cream.

I’d never had smoked mozzarella before this evening, but after tonight, I think even plain buffalo mozzarella will just not be good enough anymore! Absolutely fresh and firm mozzarella, the way it should be. Probably one of the freshest you can get in London, as Obikà imports them fresh from Italy three times a week.

With lots of cheese and meats being digested, it was time to get some carbs into our system – a plate of Scialatielli di Gragnano “Pasta Gentile” was next, which I’m not even going to attempt to translate! However, it was a thick noodle-like fresh pasta that was firm to the bite, with an interesting mix of zucchini, mint, pecorino cheese, and egg sauce. Interesting, I say, because of the shredded mint leaf in the pasta! While typically fresh egg pasta with a cheese and egg sauce would be quite rich and thick, the mint here helps to keep the dish taste light and refreshing. A recipe that I will definitely be trying to replicate at home!

Despite all the food so far, there were still the mains to come. An Italian Pizza con Verdure Grigliate e Affumicata, which was unique because of the use of smoked mozzarella rather than plain mozzarella for the cheese topping. Which went well with the slightly charred taste of the crispy pizza base.

The second main course was Tagliata di Filetto. I did wonder if the steak was from Italy too, but it turns out that this dish was a bit British – with the beef from Devon. However, this was probably the only disappointing dish of the night. Maybe it was because the bar was set so high by everything else, but the beef was slightly overcooked and therefore a bit dry, while the potatoes and grilled cherry tomatoes were quite typical and lacked the oomph factor of the other dishes so far.

Nevertheless, we ended on a high note from our tasting at Obikà with a Torta di Capri (chocolate and almond cake), with a serving of Crema di Ricotta di Bufala con Miele, Scorza d’Arancia e Pinoli (ricotta di bufala cream with honey, orange peel, and pine nuts). I think the two deserts were meant to be eaten together, with the dry-ish chocolate and almond cake really needing the creamy and wet crema di ricotta. This was all finished with a really wonderful sweet dessert wine, Passito di Noto from the Planeta vineyard.

Overall, I really enjoyed the food at the Obikà Mozzarella Bar & Restaurant. The atmosphere was enjoyable, the service was good, and its the perfect place to pig out on amazing mozzarella and creative Italian food. There’s a branch of Obikà at Canary Wharf, where I work, so I know where I’m going to be getting my Monday lunch!

Obikà Mozzarella Bar & Restaurant
Cuisine: Italian, specializing in Mozzarella
Rating: 9 out of 10 stars
Average prices: £4-£9 (starters), £10-£20 (main courses)

Address: 96 Draycott Avenue, South Kensington, London SW3 3AD
Booking Tel: 0207 581 5208
Website: www.obika.co.uk