Food without memory is just digestion

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Obika - Bravo Signor Ursini!

One does not often find, Gentle Reader, a happy fusion when meeting a western food tradition built around a neo-Japanese concept. On the contrary, one generally finds con-fusion... as evidenced by such abominations like California Roll sushi or Teriyaki Chicken pizza. On the other hand, your Humble Correspondent is the first to admit that Tokyo may well be the weird "capital" of the world.

Enter Obika, snuggled into the unfashionable side of Roppongi Hills and being the Nipponica variant of the global phenomenon of Grupa Obika. This contagious (epidemic?) outbreak of mozzarella eateries is the brainchild of Signor Silvio Ursini of Bulgari fame. An ardent fan of Japan and a dedicated devourer of sushi, he was one day struck by the brilliant thought that it would be a good idea to serve his beloved mozzarella similarly presented with delicacy and wonder. One's mind boggles at just what said S. Ursini was doing at the time this particular thought struck, and how bears are related to buffaloes.

Obika is brought to us by the omnipresent Wondertable restaurant and bar company. With more than 20 establishments (all seemingly with different thematic thrusts), one "wonders" how they remember what to serve every day and how they judge performance and quality. Would that I had the providor contract!

The Roppongi version of Obika is pleasant and airy, well laid out around a service platform and sushi-esque counter that at least pays tribute to S. Ursini's original inspiration. It seems that perhaps Japanese - especially the bevy of young women who were dining at Obika when I visited with the Child Bride - are not perhaps as taken with the romance of sushi as the Italian gentleman because they overwhelmingly preferred the stylish cafe tables to the counter.

Now I need to warn you, Gentle Reader, to be prepared to be Office-Lady'ed to death when you visit Obika. During my visit, the entire male population of the restaurant would not have filled a five-urinal rest room, and the air was rent with giggles, Waa-ahs, and sugoi's. The tables have clever hooks designed to hold Gucci or Bulgari handbags and to auto-eject anything from a French brand (actually, that's not true). There are plenty of mirrors, and a broad selection of desserts which strangely do not feature mozzarella. Wine seems more decorative than consumed, perhaps a pity given the Napoli background of S Ursini.

In short, exactly right for Roppongi Hills which is perhaps a 21st century Japanese version of a vestal virgin House or a medieval nunnery... which would explain the prevelance of Ophelia-like long dark tresses and pale complexions.

All of that said, Obika is well worth a brief dalliance. It is significantly better than the other food outlets in Roppongi Hills, with the exception of Joel's Atelier. The food is well prepared, and the Ricotta and Spinach ravioli I enjoyed was a real stand-out. Of course, the mozzarella tasting dish (3 varieties from sweet to smoky to firm) also deserves your attention and the salads are both elegant and green. A daily pasta dish adds variety to an otherwise mundane menu.

The Obika site also has an online reservations function for the technologically gifted, and an offline telephone reservations function for the vocally gifted.

And should you spy a little round man being a little too metriculous with the Balsamic and the double-virgin olive oil, do please offer to pay the chit. It would help me meet the monthly payments on the handbags.

Obika: 6-10-2 Roppongi, Roppongi Hills (Keyakizaka-side) B1F t: 03-5786-6400
Rating: Food: 7/10; Girly-ness: 7/10; Service: 7/10; Ambiance: 6/10; Price ($$): 8/10. Total: 35/50

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