Ocken Restaurant: a place that is fuelled with spirits of creativity and freedom of cooking. The meal here is inspired by the cook’s memories and his or her daily craving for well-made and tasty food. You may very well say the dishes here are chef-centric; instead of focusing on what diners are crazing over, the chefs here actually go for what really makes them happy to cook. So it comes as no surprise to see that a read through the menu won’t really tell you what kind of food they serve here. And yet, with their emphasis also on making great food from top-notch ingredients, the name ‘Ocken’ has been mentioned with noticeable constancy among foodies.
The menu features diverse cuisines, spanning Korean, European and Western dishes, and we got the privilege to indulge in their new dishes recently. Read on for our full review to get a glimpse of what Ocken is really all about.
With the use of copper and wood elements, Ocken boasts a dimly-lit space that has a touch of romance to it. Once you enter, the first two things that are likely to catch your eyes immediately are the open kitchen and baking stations. Bread cools on the table in front of the guests, jars of grains and spices are stacked up by the wall, a turquoise bar is filled with booze, and everything is messily in order. The hectic kitchen fills the air with spirited energy, orchestrating the melodious sounds of spatulas hitting pots and pans that make the semi-fine dining venue unpretentious.
The one-page menu here changes constantly. One thing, however, remains the same: the food is divided into five courses, entitled simply as course One, Two, Three, Four, and Five. With each course offering a series of dishes, diners get a chance to assemble their own meal freely. The restaurant does not even require you to stick from course One to Five, so if you’re more of an a la carte person, go ahead and select what you fancy.
A meal at Ocken is the kind of fine meal that begins with cocktails and a basket filled to the brim with warm brioche and house-own bread, which the bakers make freshly right at their flour-specked station in the corner of the restaurant. We got it served as the first stellar appetiser and of course, enjoyed it immensely.
The first actual dish that arrived at our table as a deliciously welcoming bite was the Shrimp Toast (THB 220). Smeared between two slices of pan-toasted sandwich bread was the gooey sauce made up of shrimp patty, hoisin, herbs, spicy Sriracha mayo and fish sauce vinaigrette. The sandwich was tangy and richly-textured thanks to the patty and fatty sauce. The small appetiser had layers of flavour that left us dazzled over its look of simplicity.
Next up we had the Ocken Salad (THB 420), which was comprised of burrata, kiwi and Asian pear served on a bed of watercress. The salad itself tasted simple, but one thing that raised its tastiness to a whole new level was the rosemary-spiked almonds sprinkled generously on top, giving the dish that wonderful crunch and nuttiness.
Now if you’re a fan of Korean-style fried chicken, you’d absolutely like the upcoming dish we tried of Korean Fried Cauliflower (THB 320). Coated — more like soaked — in the sweet slash spicy chilli sauce, the bite-sized batter-fried cauliflower yielded the familiar flavour you often get from dining at Bonchon Chicken except for the chicken substitution actually made the dish more addictive, due to the toothsome softness of the cauliflower.
We then continued with another green-centric dish: the Cold Cappellini (THB 450). Bathed in semi-tangy tomato water and zucchini sauce, the bundle of capellini pasta soaked up the mint-green liquid, showcasing a beautiful greenish colour that only helped to highlight the burrata and crispy prosciutto placed atop it. Although the presentation of the dish was absolutely on point, we felt somehow that each component of the dish didn’t do so well at complementing one another; they weighed each other down into a jumble of flavours.
For the main, we had the Piri Piri Chicken (THB 480), which was absolutely delightful. Ocken’s deconstructed version of the Portuguese and African grilled chicken was placed on a blanket of smoky charred tomato sauce and jalapeno salsa. The meat itself was grilled to succulent perfection, so expect no dry bits that will make you down tons of water soon afterwards.
For dessert, we capped off the meal with A Matter of Chocolate (THB 320). The dessert comes with a trio of chocolate cake, malt dark chocolate mousse and aerated chocolate topped with brown butter fudge sauce and a sprinkle of cocoa nibs. It’s an explosion of cocoa in one bowl.
The extensive list of alcoholic drinks here includes classic cocktails, beer, cider, wine and digestifs. What we highly recommend are the two house cocktails: Rumble in the Jungle (THB 360) and the Ocken Martini (THB 380).
Made of jackfruit-infused white rum, Rinomato, passion fruit and pineapple, the Rumble in the Jungle will make you startled with its jackfruit-y delicious taste.
The Ocken Martini, on the other hand, was a jolly play on the classic. A few dashes of pickle brine, soy sauce and sesame oil get mixed up with gin and white vermouth to add that unusual savouriness to the cocktail, which made it a good match for dinner time. Tasty and refreshing, you may not even notice your martini has soy sauce and sesame oil incorporated in it.
Dine here if you love edible creativity. Ocken serves fine dining-style food that is actually approachable and unpretentious. Expect to see chefs putting new spins on your usual classics, like the brie-drench omelette and the deep-fried Korean chicken in the form of Korean-style fried cauliflower. Diners, however, can’t really expect the world from the service. On our visit, it wasn’t a place of great attentive or warm cordiality, which is a shame, as it would completely complement the good food and atmosphere with a same level of excellence.
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun, 6 pm-11:45 pm; Sat-Sun, 10:30 am-2:30 pm
Recommended Dishes: Shrimp Toast and Piri Piri Chicken
Price: From THB 220-THB 1,500 per person
Noise Level: Moderate
Ocken, Bhiraj Tower at Sathon Building A, 1 FL, South Sathon Road, Yannawa, Bangkok, +6682 091 6174