Let me start by saying that places like Omni Café on Front Street in Monkseaton are rare to find. It’s not very often at all that I walk into a restaurant/café and know immediately that the food, service and atmosphere of the evening is going to be top notch. I liked this laid-back, Asian-style café straightaway – with its abundance of potted plants, stained wooden furniture and bright colours catching my attention from the get-go.
If the delicious aromas of Asian tapas aren’t enough to tempt you through the door, the fact that this place is pretty much always buzzing with diners should make you drop all other plans to visit. For larger groups you’re able to book a table, but smaller parties can expect to be invited to head to the nearby pub and await a phone call telling you there is a table ready. Much better than being turned away and told to come another day!
Whilst you pour over the menu of fantastic Thai, Vietnamese and Pan-Asian dishes, help yourself to a glass of water at the counter – each tank of water is flavoured with different fruits and herbs which make it extremely refreshing. After a couple of glasses of this tasty flavoured water, I hummed and hawed over the exciting drinks menu before settling for a fantastic rum with ginger beer and mint. So good and the perfect flavours to go with the meal we were about to have.
We decided to order a whole load of main courses and side dishes to come together – just like the approach we’d normally take with Spanish tapas. We went for the highly-recommended crispy fried salt and chilli squid, Omni’s famous crispy Sichuan ribs with hot sauce (these were to die for), delicious pork dumplings that melted in your mouth and crispy chicken wings with chilli and lemongrass. And these were just the side dishes!
We eventually narrowed our selection down to three main dishes (although this was admittedly a struggle as everything looked and sounded so, so good). If you like pad Thai or other noodle dishes, I can’t recommend the pork, prawn and tamarind noodles served with beansprouts, spring onions, a fried egg and salty peanuts enough. I’m getting so hungry thinking and writing about how stunning this dish was with lots of lime squeezed over the top.
Next was the Vietnamese caramelised pork belly – now, if you order this then prepare to be blown away. The flavours and textures in this dish are nothing short of superb and my Dad (who is an even bigger foodie than me) informed the staff that this pork was, “the best thing he had eaten all year.” Served with steamed coconut and ginger rice and house pickled cucumbers (which taste x10000 better than they sound) and topped with a perfectly-cooked chilli fried egg – this dish will be life-changing for most who taste it.
Omni Café also serve a number of specials, which change on a regular basis so keep an eye on the social media for a taster! When we visited a few weeks back, the special was lemongrass pork skewers served with lime and a crunchy peanut and black bean sauce. After tasting that peanut sauce, you quite literally couldn’t wipe the smile off my face – I used to think I made a good Satay sauce, but it wasn’t a patch on this pot of deliciousness.
As you can probably imagine, we had very little room left for dessert! The cakes at Omni do look fantastic so I’m already in the process of planning a daytime trip back to Monkseaton to sample them.
There are few places I know of that are as authentic and quite frankly, down-to-earth as Omni Café is. Unpretentious and unwaveringly serving fantastic food that you’re sure to enjoy. This is one to visit!
I’d love to hear about your dining experiences at Omni. I hope you like it as much as I do!