Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Saying I love you with Crab! Dinner at Omah's Restaurant

Ok ... I was intending to include Omah's in a sort of Random Thoughts round up on food we enjoyed over the recent holiday period, but I think its good enough to warrant its own little post.

Omah's restaurant is situated on Burwood Road, almost at the corner of Glenferrie, and opposite the imposing Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Even though this is a busy road, in a wealthy suburb, it still does have the touch of the village green about it somehow.

We had a window seat tucked away from the busy kitchen and bar area Nothing suits relaxation better than the colour of an open window mixed with a warm summer's evening.

Proudly spruiking their nonya and hawker culinary skills (and don't they all!), it was the humble Pepper Crab that led us to their door, and Pepper Crab we had.

It was a special occasion and we were prepared to binge. But at $50 per crab, and a choice of 7 different sauces, you could afford to splurge a little. And one crab is more than ample for 2 people.

We began our repast with a number of starters, including one from the specials board - crispy fried kang kong ($6.50) - i.e. kang kong fried in batter.

Quite an unusual idea, but one that I'm not quite sure entirely works. I guess its a good bar snack for a vegetarian? But at the end of the day, you're really just enjoying the batter with that spongy texture of the kang kong. The accompanying coconut sauce was pretty delicious though - tasted like coconut milk with a dash of fish sauce - good combo!

We also had the Crab Omelette ($8.50)! What is it about shredded crab and egg ... lovers destined to be together in a smoky hot wok. Surely it can't be because they both exist within shells that have to be cracked open to release the sweetness inside. If I could I would be whipping them up at least once a week. And unless the crab is so stale that its reformed a shell, even the shittiest omelette maker could not mar this union.
The gingery sauce was the perfect chaperone.

Our last starter was the Yam Scallop ($7.50) - lightly seared Scallops on a yam cake base. This was nice. But I was hoping for more of that steam trolley yum cha taste, or perhaps another element to tie the 2 components together. They were oddly separate in flavour and texture.

Then it was time for the piece de resistance (M hates this phrase!) - Pepper Crab. I love my mother's Pepper crab. In fact I prefer it to Chilli Crab (one of Singapore Tourism Board's more successful campaigns). Although the sweet buns they serve at some establishments are to die for dipped in the sauce.
My mother's method is quite simple - butter (lots), garlic, salt and pepper! But the restaurant version throws in a soy and vinegar element (both dark) to the mix.

So $50 doesn't buy you the biggest of specimens, but its more than ample as mentioned previously. And it was done reasonably well. The Crab was fresh and sweet, and the sauce extremely moreish.

Our greedy palates also ordered the Sambal kang kong (Belacan Veggies as its called on the menu - $16.90), which was served with whole prawns, absolutely infused with the breath of the wok. The first few mouthfuls were amazing, you could taste the whole cooking process in a single bite. Oddly enough, although the flavour didn't exactly pall, it sort of diminished in richness. Hard to explain.

Our third main was the Ikan Bakar ($24.90) - fish grilled with mild chilli paste, onion and okra - this was dissappointing. It was lacking in flavour. Perhaps a bit of kafir lime leaf or lemongrass would not have gone amiss. And perhaps a stronger belacan hit in the chilli. I would certainly avoid this. There are other equally enticing dishes on the menu that you might want to check out first - like the Ginger Flower Duck.

We finished off our meal with the Sago pudding - done in the same way, uncannily, as M used to do his. Coloured green with pandan essence and shaped in a little mould of almost exactly the same size.

I'm not sure if I'm waxing lyrical about the restaurant or being excited by the act of finding Pepper Crab in Melbourne, but I think in summary I would recommend that you check this place out. You may come away with the same thoughts, or have an adverse experience altogether. But seek the crab out - leave etiquette at the order - and have a great night.

Omah's Nyonya Cuisine on Urbanspoon


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