Restaurant Review: O:h Cha, A Great New Place To Get All ‘Thaid’ Up!

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Honest confession: I’ve been literally itching to use the good old (and rather corny!) ‘Thai up’ pun for a while now. But then the opportunity had been eluding me for a very, very long time. Because let’s face it, how often do we Mumbaikars get to see the opening of a new Thai restaurant, when almost every other day a new Chinese or a Mexican one assaults us like Rakhi Sawant’s latest gimmick?

o:h cha
o:h cha

Thanks to o:h cha (yes, yes, spelled exactly like that, all lower case with colon pat in place!) the opportunity presented itself rather gleefully last Friday. Confused as to why a Thai restaurant would be named after a type of Japanese tea—the ultra-refreshing ocha green tea—I sauntered into this very loft-esque Lower Parel restaurant along with a die-hard Thai food fan who sure knows her Pad Kra Prow Ja from her Pad Phed Ja. It was only when we were proffered the rather elaborate menu, did we realise that o:h cha is the Thai adjective for ‘tasty’ or ‘scrumptious’.

A very sophisticated space with sombre grey walls and exposed wooden rafters, the interior of o:h cha is a cultural chameleon of sorts. Thailand is represented by the colourful Buddha heads, overhanging basket-like lamps and by the square patches of faux grass that one can see strategically placed over the wall mirrors and over the long bar.

Satay Ja at o:h cha
Satay Ja at o:h cha

Taking us back to the terraced paddy fields of rural Thailand, chef Pipat Niyomsin personally makes his suggestions as to what we should be noshing on that evening. And happy to let a master chef of his caliber (he is a former instructor at the Institute of Culinary Art, Bangkok) ply us with is creations, we happily played along.

Kung Tempura at o:h cha
Kung Tempura at o:h cha

Sitting pretty on our appetiser plates were the sublime doughnut shaped Tod Man Pla-In-Tri or the fried spicy fish cakes redolent with the flavour of kaffir lime and lemongrass, but not overpoweringly so. The light-as-air Kung Tempura with a killer fish sauce-based dip was an interesting Thai take on Japanese prawn tempura. But the surprise of the evening was the ‘fake meat’ wheat protein-based Satay Ja that came with a luscious peanut sauce. Finishing off the starters (don’t you love that oxymoron!?) was the deep fried chicken strips with lemon grass called Kai Tod Tra-Krai which we both agreed was way too dry in texture, though packed with flavour.

Som Tam at o:h cha
Som Tam at o:h cha

I have to admit that the drinks here are treated like pesky younger siblings who are just about tolerated because they have to be. A dull Mai Tai and an overtly sweet Apple-Lemongrass mocktail were enough to have us rushing back to our Asahi beers to combat the piquant hit of the Thai fare.

Mains were a procession of palate pleasing dishes all held together with copious amounts of sticky, steamed jasmine rice. The Pak Boong Fai Dang or steamed morning glory with chilli-garlic and oyster sauce was a revelation with its crisp, fresh taste as was the Pad Kra Prow Moo composed of stir fried minced pork with holy basil. Better than any curry I’ve ever had on the streets of Bangkok was the Kang Keaw Waan Kai green chicken curry with just the right amount of tender bamboo shoots and pea aubergines. The Panang Chicken Curry with its bright orange hue was another superbly executed creation that had us reach out for seconds and even thirds!

Tao Hu Tod at o:h cha
Tao Hu Tod at o:h cha

With just about some space left for desserts, we gave in to the charms of the eternal crowd pleaser, the ubiquitous Tum Tim Krob or water chestnut dumplings in fresh coconut syrup that I’ve sure seen far better versions of. o:h cha’s take on it was a rather runny, bland one that didn’t quite make the muster. But unique with a capital ‘U’ was the Khanom Mo a steamed sweet potato cake topped with fried shallots (yes, you read right!) giving it a certain playful je ne sais quoi.

And that’s just the phrase that sums up the o:h cha experience—Je ne sais quoi! Where every twist and turn of your meal will have you stumped to come up with the perfect way to describe an almost perfect meal…

WHERE? Mathuradas Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel. Call, 022 66334455/24939310
HOW MUCH? Rs 3,500 for two without alcohol
WHEN? 7.30pm to 12.30am
WHAT’S HOT? Undoubtedly, the authentic taste of Thailand that is well-referenced in the amazing food served here.
WHAT’S NOT? The over-enthusiastic, ever-hovering wait staff that can be a tad interrupting and solicitous. Also, the cocktail selection could do better by offering more than just boring old options like bloody Marys and margaritas.
SHOULD YOU GO THERE? Hell yes!

This review was done on the invitation of o:h cha
Pics courtesy: o:h cha

Post By Raul Dias (102 Posts)

Lists travel, food and luxury as the tantalizing trifecta that defines him. When he’s not travelling, eating or getting pampered at a spa, you'll find him assaulting his notebook's keyboard with a feral vengeance, churning out what he hopes are intelligent, informative and entertaining stories.

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Raul Dias

Raul Dias
Lists travel, food and luxury as the tantalizing trifecta that defines him. When he’s not travelling, eating or getting pampered at a spa, you'll find him assaulting his notebook's keyboard with a feral vengeance, churning out what he hopes are intelligent, informative and entertaining stories.