Otak-Otak offers delicious Southeast Asian cuisine

BY GRAEME LUND - FEBRUARY 9, 2019

Brian Hall, owner and chef at Otak-Otak, has a passion for Southeast Asian food.

Having spent a few years in the region as a lecturer of finance, he fell in love with the local cuisine, which he brought back to his delightful restaurant off Buffelsfontein Road in Mount Pleasant, Port Elizabeth.

Brian says, “We are a Southeast Asian-inspired outfit, born from living in the region. We aim to authentically reproduce the balance and complexity of the cuisines using fine techniques and ingredients.”

Until recently, this area had a dearth of good eateries. The surrounding suburbs are some of the most affluent in Port Elizabeth and locals have been longing for some good eateries that don’t involve a trek to the older parts of the city.

Setting and service

This is a rather small and cosy restaurant that can seat about 40 people. The décor consists largely of potted palms and Brian’s memorabilia from Southeast Asia, but it comes together to produce an airy, quaint and very comfortable eatery.

The waitresses are friendly and helpful and Brian will pop out of the kitchen to chat to his patrons between prepping the meals.

What’s on the Otak-Otak menu?

Southeast Asian cuisine is characterised by lightly prepared dishes that are fragrant and lively. The dominant flavours include lime, chilli, coriander, fish sauce, lemon grass and basil.

The Otak-Otak menu is short, but varied and yet offers something for everybody including vegan, seafood, poultry and red meat.

I have eaten at Otak-Otak on a number of occasions and have made an effort to try everything on the menu. Each dish has been fantastic.

I particularly enjoy the Firecrackers from the starter menu. These are prawns marinated in a red Thai curry paste and fish sauce that have been wrapped in wonton pastry and deep fried.

Off the main menu, I can recommend the Pork Sisig, which is pork belly marinated in a myriad of spices and served with very tasty black mountain rice, a soft boiled egg and atsara, a tropical pickle.

For those with big appetites, I can recommend the prawn and butternut guinataang. It is huge, fragrant and full of flavour.

Perhaps my favourite dish on the menu is the pork belly ramen. Brian’s take on this trending dish, is ‘… full of complexity and umami flavours, by use of deep broths and combinations of miso, soy and mirin to flavour the bowl’.

“We source free-range pork, poultry and eggs and make use of mineral rich and gmo-free condiments. We also strive to make use of organically-grown produce,” adds Brian.

Off the dessert menu, I can recommend the very tasty Palawan Crepe.

I have thoroughly enjoyed every meal at Otak-Otak. My girlfriend and I have taken great delight in identifying the mix of tastes found in each dish.

The restaurant is open in the evenings from 5pm onwards, with a Saturday lunch. Without a doubt, I’ll be back.

To make a reservation, call 078 459 4881. Follow them on Facebook or simply pop in at the Salisbury Centre, Buffelsfontein Road, in Mount Pleasant.

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