By Leigh O’Connor.
Refined fusion is what you’ll find on the plate at Oxi Tea Room
in Carlton where Chef Johnny Ping delivers a unique high tea experience to discerning Melbourne foodies.
Elevating the tea-drinking experience by blending modern and traditional brewing techniques, resulting in an unparalleled combination of flavours and aromas, this restaurant complements its tea offering with a delicious selection of housemade desserts and high tea plates.
"We create dishes that are delicate and playful,” Johnny tells AGFG. "We deconstruct the traditional high tea experience and infuse it with new techniques, teas and textures playing with seasonal ingredients and changing the menu by season.”
Born in Kedah, Malaysia, Johnny studied culinary arts and pastry in Taiwan before starting his cooking career in Singapore working at a variety of different dessert shops, restaurants and hotels.
"I was amazed at the incredible amount of focus and detail that went into desserts that I had never seen before. I was able to learn the attitude of being a Chef and honing my craft got me hooked right away. The most influential time of my career was working with a Singaporean Chef, it was very tough and I felt lost.
"Once I got through that period, I truly discovered my creativity in baking and desserts. All my experiences living and baking really came together at Oxi Tea Room, where I got an opportunity to create our own unique style of high tea.”
Serving premium hand-picked whole-leaf teas with a particular focus on oolong and black teas carefully sourced from Kenya and Taiwan, this restaurant is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate with savoury and sweet petit fours and desserts like cheesecake with plum, blueberry and tofu.
"Our signature is probably our tea petit gateaux which has premium tea infused into it to create an interesting combination of tea and fruit flavours.”
In celebration of all things chocolate this week and with Christmas just around the corner, Johnny shares his recipe for chocolate mousse
, which has a chocolate crumb filling and is coated in tempered dark chocolate, then sprinkled with gold dust. These little morsels look as delicious as they taste and would make a great gift for someone special.
"I used a different percentage of chocolate in this recipe to capture the perfect richness and balance for the mousse cake while still maintaining the smoothness in texture and flavour.
"In this recipe, you can taste the sweetness and smoothness of the rich chocolate mousse with a nutty crunchy texture at the base, plus a hint of bitterness from the decoration.”
While he may spend his days creating beautiful dishes, don’t expect the same at home…when Johnny doesn’t feel like cooking he reaches for the instant noodles, or heads to Maccas!