You can smell the aroma of cooking wafting from the kitchen and the clink of cutlery as you approach the small terrace house that has been converted into Cafe Oratnek. We arrived just after 12pm and the outdoor seating was already full.
On a hot day, the peach, mango and mint iced tea was a refreshing choice. Tea was the prominent flavour of the drink, enhanced by the fruity notes of peach and mango. There were actual chunks of fruit bobbing at the bottom of the glass and the drink wasn’t overly sweet, like most iced teas.
The matcha latte packed quite a bitter punch of green tea. Super creamy and definitely one for matcha fans. Unless you’re brave, it’s best enjoyed with at least one teaspoon of sugar to counter the bitterness.
The okonomiyaki fritters with cabbage, corn, zucchini, kimuchi and cheese was fried vegetarian heaven. The plate came with 6 large small of fritters, each drizzled with a tangy napoli sauce and were packed full of vegetables. Couldn’t really taste the kimuchi but hey, no biggie for such a tasty dish.
Omurice is a good measure of the quality of a Japanese cafe. Oratnek’s was topped with fresh tomatoes and came with peas, bacon, cheese, tomato fried rice, wrapped in an egg omelette. The dish might have sounded standard on the menu, but taste-wise it impressive.
The use of fresh tomatoes in the sticky fried rice filling was refreshingly tangy and was complemented by pops of sweet peas and salty chunks of really good bacon. To top it off, the omelette was fluffy and creamy, a big tick for any omurice dish.
What we were really waiting for was the katsu sandwich. A 200g pork fillet katsu with cabbage, Japanese bbq sauce and mustard.
The pork had a thin katsu crumb. The thick, super juicy slab of pork fillet had a wafer-thin layer of fat around it, and there was crispy layer of skin beneath the crumb. Sandwiched between pillowy soft bread, it was everything you could ask for. Definitely worth the 15 min wait and the pretty decent $13 price tag.
We took away a matcha lamington from the tempting selection of baked good at the front counter. To be honest it was a little disappointing.
I liked the matcha coating and the generous dusting of desiccated coconut, but the filling was missing a cream or jam element present in a conventional lamington that would have made it a better cake.
I was really impressed by the quality and generosity of the food of this neat little cafe. Don’t come to Oratnek because you’re in Redfern, come to Redfern because of it!