"Mozzarella bar uses high quality ingredients, but falls a little short on originality"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
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