Obikà, Canary Wharf

I never thought a mozzarella restaurant bar could be healthy… the very idea is enough to make you feel full, but Obikà offers a fresh and inspired Italian menu based around this versatile ingredient.

Obikà is a new restaurant concept focussing on the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, drawing inspiration from the research of Italian recipes and artisanal products. Gaining a following initially in Rome, this international chain now has branches all over the world. The London branch is located within the maze of Canary Wharf making it the ideal place for a rushed lunchbreak, I can imagine it is a popular eatery for busy city boys.

It is obvious on arriving that mozzarella is the star of the show, different varieties bob around in tanks of water ready to be devoured by hungry visitors. We were seated and offered drinks, our enthusiastic waiter was so eager to please that the drinks delivery went completely wrong, appalled by his mistake he sweetly offered to change it all. The menu offers a variety of dishes, most involve mozzarella in some way. Obikà propose three varieties: Bufala Classica (delicate), Bufala Affumicata (naturally smoked), and Burrata (deliciously creamy). The staff gave a very comprehensive explanation of the different varieties highlighting the obvious differences, the first two varieties are made from Buffalo milk, Burrata is interestingly made from cow’s milk.

After some ardent recommendations we felt obliged to choose the tasting platter to share. It was a delicious and varied dish, a huge plate with an array of cold meats, homemade red and green pesto, fresh spinach and cherry tomatoes, a sweet aubergine caponata… and of course mozzarella! Here we were given the chance to sample all three varieties and we had differing opinions. My favourite was the Bufala Classica, a simple but delicious cheese with a soft texture. I didn’t like the smoked variety at all, finding the taste harsh and bitter but my guest preferred this one! The Burrata was an all round success, so creamy and luxurious, it was impossible not to love it.

For main I ordered a Prosciutto Crudo pizza, which is apparently the best seller. This was exceptionally light with classic mozzarella, and a generous helping of prosciutto and peppery rocket. Though fresh and tasty, I thought it was a little bland and would have appreciated some chilli oil. My guest chose a Forman’s smoked salmon salad with lamb’s lettuce, rocket, tomatoes and avocado. This salad was wholesome and attractive in a large white bowl. The avocado looked impressively ripe… a notoriously difficult fruit to find perfect… and the salmon was a beautiful shade of coral.

To finish I was delighted to see miniature desserts listed alongside the full sized potions, a brilliant idea for diners wishing a small sugar kick at the end of their meal. We shared two Italian standards – a delectable creamy Tiramisu and a chocolate and almond torte. These sweet treats were followed shortly afterwards by the finest cappuccinos I have experienced in a restaurant for a while… smooth and roasted to create a lovely nutty taste.

This was my first outing to Canary Wharf, a part of London that I found very alien… judging by the environment, I can imagine Obikà to be a great asset to this area. Hopefully as word of mouth spreads about this fresh and healthy cuisine Obikà will develop the menu to offer even more inventive mozzarella dishes.

Visit the website here.

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