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When I first heard that Bills’ former head chef Kentaro (Kenny) Takayama was due open a Japanese fusion cafe in Redfern, I knew this was one for the Google Calendar.
Oratnek is located in a terrace house on the fringe of Prince Alfred Park. Grab a spot in the front herb garden, where chefs come to pick parsley, mint and chives to order, and where you can reach down and liberally garnish your own. Start with a Mecca coffee and choose from a selection of classic cafe favourites that have been subtly fused with Japanese flavours.
Worn-out breakfast items such as mushrooms on toast are brought to life with a sweet and salty kick of miso ($13), and in some cases dishes have been totally reinvented. A prime example is the jamon serrano, pecorino, kale, mashed green pea and broad bean tartine ($13), which is a fresh and elegant take on a ham, spinach and cheese toastie. Their white chocolate and matcha green tea muffins ($5) will have you wondering why you ever gave up eating muffins in the first place.
The lunch menu follows suit, serving salads and sandwiches which are a little bit spesh. Try the monster pork fillet katsu sambo ($10) filled with fresh cabbage, Japanese barbecue sauce and mustard on thick white bread with the crusts cut off (thanks, Mum). Served on a bread board, this epic schnitty sandwich will have everyone wishing they ordered the same, and at just $10, you’re paying dodgy pub prices for some really high-quality fare.
There’s also a Japanese fried chicken sandwich ($10) with a brave helping of fermented kimchi, as well as a calamari, cabbage and fresh herb salad ($17) or a comforting steamed clam pot with sake and garlic ($19).
While the cuisine has little in common with Bills, you can see the resemblance in the quality control; every punctured egg unleashes a gooey, golden stream of yolk, while each piece of fried chicken runs with perfectly clear juices. Food is fresh, faultless and fabulous. There may not be corn fritters or honeycomb butter on the menu, but for me this is classic Bills with a Japanese edge.
78-80 George Street
T (02) 8394 9770
90 Pitt Street
T (02) 9310 4314
267 Cleveland Street
T (02) 8646 4930
122 Redfern Street
T 0430 044 383
585 Elizabeth Street
T (02) 9698 3500
89 Pitt Street
T +61 2 8540 6429
359 Crown Street
T (02) 9360 4762
Bells Line of Road
T (02) 4567 2575
22-24 King Street
T (02) 9516 5581
346 Liverpool Street
T (02) 9357 6084
23-25 Doody Street
T 0449 925 683
Eveleigh Creative Precinct, Hart Street
Thursday, June 14 - Sunday, September 2
@ Madame Truffles Sydney
Wednesday, May 2 - Sunday, October 14
@ Powerhouse Museum
Wednesday, January 17 - Tuesday, December 25
@ Friend in Hand Hotel
Tuesday, August 7 - Saturday, September 1
Sunday, July 1 - Saturday, September 1
@ Taylor Square
Saturday, April 14 - Sunday, October 14
@ Byron Kennedy Hall