Behind a white-tiled facade of a coffee shop on Anfu Lu, there’s some kind of magic in the works. Blake Thornley is going off-piste with Chinese flavours at Oha Eatery, turning out impressive Guizhou-inspired small plates. It’s thoughtful cooking re-contextualising old flavours in a new way – the ‘Mouldy Tofu Salad’ tosses Chinese clover with a drizzle of honey and fermented tofu that you’ll swear is blue cheese but just a little bit extra. The memorable pinewood-smoked beans and pork are delightful in their smoky umami, arriving under a glass bell jar with a drama usually ascribed to cocktails in this city. Super sweet and fatty ‘Crispy Dates’ are exceptional, served alongside roasted cauliflower, turnip, curry and cocoa, each playing off brilliantly against the bright grassiness of celery fronds. The sea bass promised as seared seems steamed and – delicate, but plain – sits atop bland pomelo purée with carrot and sesame. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the burnt bell pepper with preserved egg purée is unchained and divisive – you either love century eggs or you hate them and this isn’t changing that.
Drinks are equally as funky as the food, with ‘skin contact’ natural wines that are Oha in a nutshell – effervescent, youthful and bringing something fresh to the table.
By Cat Nelson