I’m no expert on it, but thus far myself and Korean cuisine have done a good job of clicking: strong flavours, big spices and plenty of bite and crunch. And meat – let’s not forget that the Koreans sure know how to handle a grill. So what’s not to like? Well, in the case of Onggi, a fair bit…
Mediocrity is not something I expected. It’s clear that the investment hasn’t been small, and in spite of the generous footprint, the design team have done a smart job of creating an atmospheric venue filled with nooks and alcoves clad with lifestyle titles and traditional masks. It’s beautiful.
And while the size should work against it, I’m surprised to find it doing brisk business: it’s about 6 p.m. when I visit, yet there’s a steady stream of customers – and a diverse bunch they are, from date night couples to greying theatre types.
While I wouldn’t say everything goes wrong with the food, there’s just not much that goes right. As it turns out, this isn’t a restaurant in the true sense of the word, but actually more of a canteen – you pay zł. 45, and then get free reign on a buffet-style offer kept warm in the kind of chafing dishes you see at a hotel brunch. Now I recognize that the Poles love the ‘all you can eat’ concept, but for me there’s little more depressing than seeing food just sit and die in metal containers.
I can’t say I dislike my meal, but it does lack enjoyment – the full flavours I’m expecting are dull and timid. The spicy chicken is devoid of snap, the crispy fried chicken way too claggy and the bacon and mushroom skewers better on the eye than they are on the palette.
There’s nothing offensive about it, and there are some pleasant surprises – for instance, the green onion pancake – but you never get a sense of soul or spirit. And the dessert sums it up: no fireworks, just a solid performance courtesy of a block of steamed rice and a clutch of grapes. You expect more. In an area bristling with highly individual eateries, Onggi never feels anything more than a merely adequate feeding trough.
ul. Moliera 2