Food Column- Orchard City Kitchen

At Campbell’s Orchard City Kitchen (OCK), the culinary focus is not on portion size, nor is it based around hearty portions of food. Unlike traditional restaurants, where patrons order one entree and maybe an appetizer, OCK bases its system around many small, exquisitely prepared dishes, not meant to fill but rather to experience.

The interior of the restaurant is built with a systematic randomness—what appears to be a wooden barn door mingles with exposed brick walls and stainless steel plating. Numerous lamps hover over the space on strings and the furnishings are almost entirely made out of wood. The kitchen is an open area, where chefs and servants busily prepare the meals.

I ordered the parisian gnocchi, a type of pasta shaped as a small lump; biscuits and bacon, served with honey butter; and the grilled pork belly, a cut of pork rich in fat.

Parisian gnocchi is a type of gnocchi that uses a dough called pâte à choux, which, when cooked, has a light and fluffy texture, in contrast with the heavy chewiness of the potato flour used in regular gnocchi. The parisian gnocchi at OCK was lightly fried to create a texture like that of a toasted marshmallow—crisp on the outside, and soft as a cloud on the inside. Green garlic adds a nutty flavor to the dough, and candied pecans are interspersed throughout the bowl. A blue cheese fondue acts as the sauce, imparting the slightly sour and sharp blue cheese flavor to the combination. Tall green herbs garnish the gnocchi and add color to the light brown toasted gnocchi and creamy white of the sauce. The feather-light gnocchi combined with the heavy blue cheese fondue was appealing both presentation-wise and taste-wise.

The biscuits and bacon are slammed on a slab of fire-blasted wood along with a generous helping of honey butter. The biscuits are softly aromatic with the smell of flour and butter, and the bacon comes as dark red streaks weighed down by floods of maple syrup. This classic combination is reliable as ever; the sweetness of the syrup only serves to augment the iconic bacon flavor, and the biscuits anchor down the bacon’s soaring sweetness and savoriness. The honey butter is fluffed and light, with barely a hint of honey decipherable. This rustic dish created a startling contrast against the usual intricacy of OCK’s style.

A thick slab of meat surrounded by a pool sweet soya, grilled in the juices of a charred scallion and drizzled with truffle oil, the pork belly has a rich fatty aroma balanced out by the alcohol-esque sweetness of the soya. Although charred dark on the outside, the pork belly has a light white color on the inside—the oil-infused meat has a rolling texture and a basic creamy flavor carrying little of the pork undertone found in other meats such as ham but accentuated with the tang of soya and scallions. Though the dish excelled in flavor, the fat content meat was just too much in the end.

Eating at OCK would depend on the occasion; it focuses on taste and complexity rather than serving a hearty meal. It would be similar to going to an art gallery instead of a movie—focusing and appreciating the detail involved in painting a picture rather than passively enjoying a blockbuster film.

Pros:

Well-made dishes

Fast service

Appealing interior

Friendly waiters

Orderly and clean

Cons:

Very expensive

Small serving size

Long waiting line

4.5/5 forks