Unit 1 West Wintergarden, 35 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London

Mozzarella bar uses high quality ingredients, but falls a little short on originality

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Address:35 Bank Street
Canary Wharf
E14 5NW
Map:Map & nearby
Region:Canary Wharf
Nearest Station:Canary Wharf
About: Italian export Obikà has launched a new restaurant in Canary Wharf, bringing the world‚s best mozzarella, produced by hand from premium buffalo milk, to one of London‚s most lively districts. Centering its offering on top quality Italian Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, served alongside typically Italian artisan products, Obikà will be a stylish all-day dining and drinking venue with a takeaway and deli counter.
The Obikà restaurant menu will include a varied offering allowing guests to enjoy breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner as well as coffees and evening drinks. The very best quality mozzarella cheese can be ordered with a range of accompaniments such as Prosciutto Crudo di Parma DOP, Bresaola della Valtellina (cured beef) and Forman‚s smoked salmon. Antipasti such as Caponata alla Siciliana (Sicilian aubergine casserole) and Crostini with organic tomatoes will be on offer in addition to a number of salads and hot dishes including Schiaffoni di Gragnano (pasta with Mozzarella di Bufala Campana and tomato sauce). Obikà will also serve freshly baked pizza, prepared using stone ground PETRA flour and artisanal dough which is left to rise for 48 hours, resulting in an exceptionally light and easily digestible base. The typical Italian-style Aperitivo‚ will be served in the early evenings, offering a great selection of wines that come from both renowned and lesser known boutique w
ine producers throughout Italy. The takeaway area will sell sandwiches, pastries, salads and soups, prepared fresh daily and displayed in a glass counter at the front of the restaurant.

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"Mozzarella bar uses high quality ingredients, but falls a little short on originality"

Review Rating: 6 / 10
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The founder of Obikà supposedly took inspiration from Tokyo’s sushi bars when he came up with the concept of a mozzarella bar. The idea worked, and there are now 18 branches of the restaurant worldwide, which claims to offer the world’s best mozzarella (hand-produced in the Campania region, DOP status).

Obikà first arrived in London via a temporary outlet at Selfridges, however the eatery has now been permanently relocated to Canary Wharf, within a large atrium adjacent to the shopping mall. Unsurprisingly the clientele is almost solely made up of workers from the surrounding financial corporations.

The wine list has popular choices (Pinot Grigio, Chianti, Sauvignon Blanc) starting from £18.50 and rising to £60, while the menu is equally simple, designed for a filling lunch that requires little concentration. There are starters like crostini, baked aubergine, and salads, and the hot dishes consist of pizza, pasta or a straightforward combo of pesto, beans and potatoes. Their raison d’etre is of course the mozzarella bar, although sadly there is no cheese swishing around on a conveyor belt. Starter-sized dishes of cured meat or antipasti are paired with one of three types of mozzarella, classica, smoked, or very creamy burrata. The smoked cheese is aromatic and tasty but a little rubbery on the outside, while the burrata is rich despite looking a tad watery. We pair the cheeses with peppery Mortadella di Prato and luscious, juicy grilled artichokes imported all the way from Gragnano, perhaps explaining the hefty £10.50 price tag.

A salad with tuna in olive oil, capers, baked olives and sundried tomatoes is fairly unremarkable and the tuna is tinned, while the formaggi morbidi pizza is more interesting, with a nice thin base topped with mild ricotta and stracchino cheeses, perked up considerably with hints of gorgonzola. Blobs of half-melted mozzarella appear to be for decorative purposes only.

So far so far so hit and miss, but the desserts are great. The tiramisu has an exquisite layer of boozy sponge; the ricotta di buffalo with honey, pine nuts and grated orange peel is a light, uncloying alternative. A mini trio of desserts (the aforementioned plus a chocolate and almond tart) is also available for under a tenner.

Ingredients may bear the Italian hallmark but while the food is good for a hunger-appeasing meal, it falls a little short on originality. A three course meal with wine is around £70, but a two course set lunch with a drink and coffee is a bargain at just £12.50.

Leila reviewed Obikà on Tue 20 Mar 2012

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