I have been a fan of Ocha for years. I still remember my first time with the family and our neighbours in its homeland of Kew.
The food was special, the service quirky and warm, the atmosphere was kooky and the patrons (often regulars who would book the whole year out as it is hard to get in) knew they were coming to something special. Plus it was BYO.
Now, it is a little more posh in its newer home of Hawthorn my friends and with that poshness I find the quirky and unusual is now lost.
Having said that, Ocha still has some of the better modern Japanese around town and a healthy wine list (albeit no longer BYO).
My sister and I were out for a girls night with a few cousins who all have kids and, quite frankly, just needed a good night out.
And it was.
The biggest issue is trying to choose from the menu as there are a lot of options and a lot of great looking specials. We decided to be guided by the waitress.
The scallops with an awesome light delicate sauce were sensational as was the gyoza.
The prawn dumplings with green powder and the beef tataki were great as was the must have fried calamari with rocket.
The sushi and sashimi here is impeccable. And the fish, which we had 2 ways (i) fried swordfish; and (ii) miso cod, was super fresh and cooked to perfection.
The best suprise though is the desserts. I say this because I hate green tea ice cream and sesame paste pancakes. Ocha serves crepes with some Japanese difference, plum sake jelly with fruit, passionfruit mousse and the list just goes on. The perfect cross between East and West.
My cousins were particularly impressed with the service - things just get done and things just happen.
Look, this place for me has lost a bit of magic but it still does deliver great food.
Around $90 per head.