Rochester Park has got to be one of my favorite areas for dining in Singapore. It’s open, not too crowded and the standard of food across the board is pretty high. One place which I particularly enjoy visiting is Onaka. A relatively new addition to Rochester Park family, and something quite unique in Singapore.
As you can see from the first picture, Onaka prides themselves on being a healthy and nutritious dining destination. Everything is organic, gluten free (oh, and no lard! Always appreciated).
From the very moment you arrive, you start feeling more relaxed. Aside from the Rochester Park forest charm, the restaurant to me seems more like a garden green cafe in it’s atmosphere. It’s mainly outdoor dining (about 30-40 seats), but there is a small area of about 15-20 seats inside – which is where I general choose to sit in order to not become a sweat soup.
After sitting down and immediately being brought a glass of lemon-infused ice water***, I decided to order myself a healthy fruit smoothy, which for only $7, is excellent value considering the size and the quality of the ingredients. My choice for the day was a ‘Minty Melon’ – A gorgeous Ice blended drink with watermelon and fresh mint. What I particularly like about it was that it’s quite thick..It doesn’t just disappear after a few gulps. It was refreshing and lasted me the whole meal.
***If you’ve read my previous article below, you’ll know how much I detest places that refuse to serve tap water…grrrrrrr.
Next up was a cross-section of dips on the appetizer menu (which are all available individually for $8-12 each – obviously in bigger portions). There was a avocado/guacamole dip, tomato/cucumber salsa, asian-inspired hummus and a fusion olive taparnade. All serviced with sliced carrots, celery, cucumber, tomatoes and oven baked chips.
The best way to describe all this is FRESH. I love it when you a chef uses genuinely good, fresh ingredients when preparing dishes like these and other salads. Freshness is key. Whilst the tomato salad, guacamole and hummus were certainly tasty, it a bit mild for my rough palate. What really struck gold for me was the olive taparnade – a hand crushed mix of green and black olives, cut chili, lemongrass, garlic and oil. This is not for a delicate palate, but if you like your tongue stimulated like the lambada, try it. It’s delicious.
Next up was something which I was a little scared of…. a gazpacho SALAD ($14)! The tabasco and tomato soaked bread bits at the bottom were a great touch and the flavors were very nice. Unfortunately, to me the salad was just a little too vegetal and lacked something…Perhaps some juicy jumbo prawns would have tipped the scales.
Finally up was a simple Geniovese Italian dish – simple, assorted mushroom and chives with spaghetti in a butter and red wine sauce. The mushroom aromas dominated and the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente (slightly firm/not soggy). The whole dish made me feel like I should be in Northern Italy sitting in a cosy bistro hiding from the cold. A simple but delicious dish.
All in all, I highly recommend Onaka – the service is excellent, the atmosphere is total ‘getaway-hideout’, though would be good to bring kids and families if you’re sitting outside, and the food is simple, nutritious and well cooked. It also offers excellent value for the quality and quantity of food you are getting.
The best time to come I would say is lunch or in the early afternoon – their menu offers excellent value and it’s also relatively quiet at those times. I didn’t mention it earlier but do try their desserts if you have a sweet tooth. They’re relatively guilt free but still delicious.
(Pictured above are Chef Jason and Chef/Owner Rosalind – the founder of Onaka) – Thank you both for taking the time to guide me through the dishes. Always a pleasure seeing you both
Onaka also offers cooking classes both for the public and corporate clients. For more information, email email@example.com