review

The O.A.K Dinner

We were incredibly sad when Seoul Foods at Elan Soho lost all its Korean flair. From local reviews, the food was just an OK Australian affair and people wanted better. Of course, Chef Chung Jae Lee had opened Little Miss Korea down the road, so people had their avenue for that Korean kick.

To be honest, I previously couldn't quite imagine another restaurant that could fill the red building with the same calibre food, but I am super excited that I was wrong on so many levels.

Guys, welcome The O. A. K.

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

The Original Australian Kitchen (O.A.K) is exactly what you think the name portrays - it's a real grill and chill spot and we absolutely love what they've done with the place!

They've kept the open plan seating but placed a few less chairs, so your food groaning can be a little bit more private. I'm stoked that they kept the open plan kitchen and rebar bar (hurrr) design. The decor sings simplicity, but with class and a touch of the quirky. The orange and oak veneer has really injected some new life and works with the existing red. I got a real feeling of the whole farm-to-table concept.

Definitely welcoming and comfortable.

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

Even before we ordered I could see many happy faces. The waitstaff were *excellent* - super friendly and ready to strike up some great conversation. The chats were so funny that we almost forgot to order!

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

Entrees

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

The chef suggested a mixed platter of entrees so that we got to taste everything. 
The plate arrived and there was a gracious spread:

  • Spicy wagyu meatballs ($17)
  • Bruschetta, classic style ($10)
  • Pan seared Hervey Bay scallops ($19)
  • House cured crocodile gravlax ($16)

The wagyu meatballs and bruschetta were pretty good, but we had spent so long getting photos that they had turned a little cold and soggy (our fault!). Yummy flavours, nonetheless!

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

The scallops were delicious, even though it had what I first thought to be strange compliments. The whole sensation of the crunchy yet mild pineapple and fennel salsa verde, the smoothness of the beetroot purée and the supple yet firm touch of the scallop worked very very well together.

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

Now, we gotta talk about this gravlax. I have never heard of a crocodile gravlax, and you may not have either.
All I can say is, be brave and eat that crocodile.

Smoked (!) crocodile tail marinated in ouzo (!!) for hours then dressed with basil and kaffir lime (!!!) produces these baby slices of white meat with perfect flavours. It is a little like eating a cross of chicken and scallop sashimi - firm, slightly chewy, yet subtle. Kaffir lime can be quite a distinct flavour, but I thought the addition of the slightly dried out watermelon balanced the dish wonderfully. Definitely one to order.

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

Mains

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

 

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

 

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

Argh, the mains! Such choices!
We only needed two for the night and we almost brought the house down bickering what to have.
Crab & prawn linguine? Yum.
Confit duck leg? Gimme dat.
Crispy skin Barra? Oh my.

(I love how the orange chips are so on brand to The O.A.K. :D )

We finally settled on these two babies:

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

Like true meatophiles we dived into the eye fillet fangs first. My partner and I basically obliterated the meaty hunk in minutes. Grilled to a perfect almost moo-ing medium rare, the meat melted in my mouth and I was in total bliss. The accompanying red sauce was delicious, and I wished there was a little more in the serve. The 'rustic chips' were cooked well, albiet ordinary... I was hoping for actual hand cut chippies with the skin on, but chips are chips.

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

Twice cooked pork belly, sweet soy caramel glazed heirloom carrots and cauliflower puree had us drooling. Look at that presentation!

The flavours on this baby was spot on, but could use a little tweaking IMHO. The cauliflower puree was smooth and creamy, the sauce sweet but not overpowering and the pork was probably treated like royalty at some stage in its life. I didn't mind that the skin on top was not crackle perfect, because it had absorbed all the sweet sauce. There was no fatty aftertaste, and I could definitely have used more of that sauce.

At $31 I felt that it was a touch expensive for the serve size. I understand it's delicate, but hey, a man's gotta have his fill of meat. Maybe it was just me, but I thought the cubes were a little difficult to cut through to enjoy fully. At the end of the day, it's still a delicious dish!

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

Desserts

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

By this stage we were ready to roll, but we decide to have one dessert and a coffee to share. I picked the most asian flavoured dessert: a lychee and mango cheesecake with raspberry compote and chantilly cream. 

A+ for presentation - I love that there's homemade honeycomb and chocolate soil because that's the kind of garnishing that makes everything 100 times more awesome. The serve is a little small for $12, but hey, I didn't mind. The raspbery compote was quite dominant and the mango and lychee flavours got a little lost, which made me a little sad because lychee is such a beautiful subtle taste. It was still a delicious dessert nonetheless.

Conclusion

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the night with the perfect ambience and waitstaff. The food can be a little pricey, but nothing too extravagant. I'll definitely be making my way back for that crocodile gravlax and maybe that seafood pasta... and duck confit... and that 'Taste of the Territory' platter.

The O.A.K is open everyday from 6am to 10pm, at the Oaks Hotel on Woods Street.

The O.A.K at Elan Soho, Woods St

Contact details
Address
31-33 Woods Street
Darwin City NT 0800
Phone
1300 542 502
Opening hours
Sunday: 6:00-22:00
Monday: 6:00-22:00
Tuesday: 6:00-22:00
Wednesday: 6:00-22:00
Thursday: 6:00-22:00
Friday: 6:00-22:00
Saturday: 6:00-22:00