4 Pitt Street Redfern, New South Wales 2016
|Opening hours||7am-4pm Mon-Sat; 8am-4pm Sun|
|Features||Accepts bookings, Breakfast-brunch, Vegetarian friendly, Family friendly|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Chef||Kentaro "Kenny" Takayama|
|Payments||Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||02 8934 9550|
What does Oratnek mean? Is it a Japanese spider? Can you eat it? Does it, like every other foreign word I fail to recognise, mean bicycle?
No, it's actually chef Kentaro "Kenny" Takayama's first name, flipped. And that's the whole premise here at this sweet little Japanese-inspired cafe on the old Fern site, set inside an old converted terrace in Redfern.
Takayama, ex-head chef at the Darlinghurst arm of Bills, has devised a smart menu that doesn't veer too far away from the Sydney cafe staples you've come to know and love (there's banana bread with caramel butter, smashed avocado on toast and yep - the requisite bacon and egg roll). But then you've got serrano jamon and smashed broad beans on toast, and sauteed mushrooms with miso butter. And look - there are sides of ham steak (ham steak!) and edamame.
At lunchtime, things take a proper Tokyo turn.
A pork katsu sandwich sees fluffy white bread hold a mammoth 200-gram thick cut pork fillet, slathered in lurid American-style mustard, tonkatsu sauce and shredded lettuce all sliced into thick fingers, crusts off. At $10, it makes a perfect hefty lunchtime snack.
Sadly, the deep-fried chicken on a round roll doesn't pack quite same impact - the bread-to-meat ratio is a little off - it's just not as well realised as its crunchy, fluffy friend.
Freshen up with a house-made ginger beer (not gingery enough!) or house-made lemonade (too lemony!) before moving on to miso-bathed short ribs styled up like a sort of ssam, which they're billing as "sang choi bau". Grab a lettuce cup, some pickled cucumber, a bit of the chewy, salty beef and a little coriander dressing. Wrap, rinse and repeat.
Then there's the ultra-comforting Japanese-style casserole with a soft boiled egg, mustard and slow cooked lamb. Perfect winter fodder.
Side note, when was the last time you ate a brownie the same size as your face? Is the answer never?
Remedy that by ordering one of the mammoth choc slices as lunch dessert and a coffee at the same time. They're using Mecca beans here, and using them well. There's nice milk work at play, and a steady hand on the tamper.
Well played, Redfern.
Pro tip Arrive on the early side of lunch and go double pig with a ham steak and pork sandwich. Oof.
Try this The pork katsu sandwich is 200g of pure crunchy-fried porcine bliss
Bottom line Katsu sandwich ($10); miso beef ribs ($21); Japanese slow-cooked lamb casserole ($23)
Like this? Lucky Pickle, sandwich sweethearts of Surry Hills, command massive foot traffic for their medium size hogies.