Kitchen wizard conjures a taste of magic
Oha Eatery doesn’t want to offer a classic dining experience — they want a bit of edge.
A recent renovation removed the existing columns, divisions and all unnecessary fittings to create an even more minimal space: A communal table where 23 guests can enjoy innovative plates while chef Blake Thornley and his team prepare in an open kitchen at the end of the room.
Oha is probably one of the city’s smallest dining rooms. It’s situated on the leafy Anfu Road and is an elevated addition to the street’s food and beverage scene. When it’s packed every evening, the space is buzzing.
The chef, from New Zealand, has been in charge of the kitchen since opening and gained a loyal following of diners who enjoy his creative dishes.
Oha Eatery is kind of a food lab, where experiments take place based on regional ingredients from Guizhou Province — a place chef Blake Thornley recently visited. The journey led him to discover new ingredients and ideas that he’s incorporated into the Oha Eatery menu.
The menu, on the other hand, reveals the Oha story and its philosophy. A dish is not only a dish; it is more a marriage between traditional food cultures and innovative cooking methods.
Thornley brought back typical Guizhou ingredients, such as shrimp paste and smoky bamboo shoots, and played with different regional spices, ferments, meat and fish. After many trials, several tasty plates were created.
The current menu features a slew of interesting dishes. For example, black tea-cured kingfish (48 yuan) was presented together with deep-fried, crispy tree bark. He brought back Mountain Cang tree bark from Guizhou and found the texture and taste he created balanced well with the fish dish.
“I just love to try different possibilities and constantly make mistakes. But about 40 percent of my experiments turn out to be okay,” he said.
Shrimp paste beef dumplings is another dish you’ll either love or hate.
After two months of the crushed river shrimp fermentation mixed with chili powder, ground ginger and salt, the shrimp paste is extremely stinky, sour and spicy. But it gives an irresistible touch to the mountain beef dumplings.
It goes without saying, dishes created by Thornley are fun and daring.
The food goes well with the restaurant’s selected natural wine as well, that tends to surprise in general. But follow the sommelier’s recommendations and you’ll be in good hands.
Opening hours: 12am-2pm, 5pm-9pm (food) 5pm-10:30pm (drink)
Address: 23 Anfu Rd
Average price: 180 yuan (US$26.07)