Compelling cuisine

OCD delivers a unique dining experience

OCD delivers a unique dining experience (photo credit: HAIM YOSEF)
OCD delivers a unique dining experience
(photo credit: HAIM YOSEF)
The restaurant with the unusual name of OCD is distinctive on many counts, from its industrial chic décor behind an unassuming entrance on a small side street in Jaffa, to its singular approach to dinner (and weekly brunch) service and its proactive approach to accommodate customers with special dietary needs.
The architect of everything that characterizes OCD, and the creator of its “new Israeli cuisine,” is chef Raz Rahav, who is remarkably young to be helming and co-owning a restaurant that has garnered critical accolades, including making Time Out Magazine’s Ten Best Restaurants list, in addition to Rahav’s being selected “best young chef.”
OCD serves a fixed, 15-course menu at two seatings five nights a week, at 7 p.m. and 9:30. The cost of the entire meal is also fixed, at NIS 310. The price includes unlimited still or sparkling mineral water. There is also an extensive, bilingual wine and alcohol list, with specialty cocktails and some wines available by the glass.
None of the 19 diners seated on the plush suede bar stools at the modified horseshoe bar surrounding the open kitchen knows what is on the menu until the dishes are served – with only a verbal explanation, in Hebrew or English, by a sous-chef, straight from the plating area. Adding to the anticipation, at any given time up to three dishes are prepared and plated in full view. A printed menu is distributed at the end of the meal.
Naturally, reservations (which are sometimes hard to come by) are de rigueur. Once the reservation is confirmed, the restaurant asks whether any dietary restrictions or food allergies apply, and the kitchen makes adjustments to individual menus accordingly. OCD can accommodate vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians and some kashrut adaptations (no pork or shellfish).
The first evening service starts precisely at 7 p.m. in order to finish in time for the second seating.
Latecomers will have the chance to catch up, but if you are seriously delayed, it is advisable to alert the restaurant. The wait staff work with polite efficiency as they clear and replace cutlery between each course.
The first “course” gives you an idea of how 15 courses can be squeezed into just over two hours, as well as how it is possible to eat everything and end up delightfully satiated rather than full-to-bursting: it, and a number of the subsequent dishes, were the size of an amuse bouche.
We started our meal with a tiny puri (an Indian cracker) filled with cardamom leaf foam and topped with cucumber ceviche. The slightly spicy masterpiece awakened my taste buds, although after two magical bites, it was gone.
Next was amberjack sashimi marinated in lemon juice and soy sauce, with ginger relish. The freshness of the raw fish was evident, and the three delicious slices virtually melted in the mouth.
The seared Spanish mackerel on a puffed rice cracker with shallot practically evaporated on the tongue, but even the smallest bite filled the mouth with flavor.
Two mini-loaves of mochi (Japanese rice dough cake) were served with a dipping sauce of roasted pepper cream with rosemary oil, smoked paprika and a hint of bacon. The sweetness of the chewy cake juxtaposed with its savory counterpoint was no less than an amazing gustatory experience.
The beef tartare on oat tuile with garlic and finger lime topped with nasturtium leaf added up to a terrific interplay of flavors and textures.
The zesty yet tantalizingly sweet olive jam gave us the opportunity to witness how OCD handled my companion’s request for gluten-free. I enjoyed it on fresh rye sourdough, while she spread it on crackers of puffed rice, oat and tapioca.
The turnip soup seasoned with shrimps head oil surrounding a small island of raw crystal shrimp and tarragon flowers was characterized by sheer intensity of flavor. Fortunately, more bread was served with which to sop up every last drop.
The lone dumpling stuffed with slow-cooked duck ragout in white bean chiffon with mizona leaf was yet another example of an outstanding dish that was gone all too quickly.
The most substantial dish of the evening was duck breast in a sauce of duck stock, coffee and juniper, accompanied by pumpkin, pickled cucumber and ground salted pecans.
The juicy duck moistened with superb jus was absolutely succulent.
The dinner concluded with a trio of delectable desserts and a choice of coffee or tea. A small block of honey parfait with tiny dollops of lemon gel was followed by buckwheat popcorn with stewed plum and salted caramel and, finally, petit fours.
Space did not permit detailing all 15 dishes in this review, but suffice it to say that only one of them disappointed, and even that did not go to waste, as my companion was happy to finish it.
At 9:15, Rahav thanked all the diners for coming and received a round of applause in reply. And after my second experience at OCD, I can safely say that every meal at OCD deserves an ovation.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Not kosher
17 Tirtza St., Jaffa
Tel: (03) 556-6774