2/F Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) Even with all the Japanese restaurants that seem to fill every block of the Metro, Ooma has always stood out with their confidently eccentric take on Japanese fare. While being out there is never a bad thing, even the folks at Ooma admit that there are those who do crave the more traditional take on the cuisine. Hence, a shake-up of their current menu. They're bringing the focus back to Japanese fare familiar to most Filipinos, like takoyaki and spicy tuna, and it's all launching on October 2.
Make no mistake: The additions to the menu are still something you aren’t likely to find anywhere else, but with flavors that are, admittedly, more familiar and accessible even to the newest of newbies.
The salmon sashimi, for example, isn’t just thick slices of fresh pink salmon—not that anyone would have complained. Instead, you get the Ikura Taco Maki (P315), which has a bed of crispy nori topped with a peppery fried shiso leaf, hefty slabs of salmon sashimi, and salmon roe for a briny bite to top it all off.
Ooma’s chirashi, the Bara Chirashi Don (P585), doesn’t seem like it strays from the traditional, but it also seems like more. More colorful, packed with more seafood—uni, baby octopus, salmon, tuna, and more—on top of sushi rice.
When it comes to their new maki, Ooma shows that they still have that flair for over-the-top rolls that somehow work. Their take on the takoyaki is the Crispy Tako Maki (P265), which has the familiar creamy texture and umami-packed flavor of a takoyaki, thanks to fried baby octopus, bonito flakes, a tangy bulldog aioli (similar to a burger dressing), and a soy dashi glaze.
There’s no question that the velvety Tamago and Cheese Aburi Roll (P245), rolls stuffed with mozzarella and cheddar plus tamago and aligue mayo, is a certified crowd-pleaser, but you would be surprised by how much you’ll end up liking the Roasted Eggplant Maki (P245) with the eggplant almost melting on your palate.
Ooma may have been known as a rice bar, but they treat their noodles well, too—ask anyone who’s had their Uni Udon. But the Udon Bolognese (P395) might just turn into a new favorite: The East-meets-West bowl has thick udon noodles with an al-dente bite, covered in a brightly acidic tomato sauce and a blanket of cheese and cream.
But the real star of the show? The Garlic Steak (P498), hanging tender slices set atop a cauliflower mash with garlic chips and oyster mushrooms. It almost doesn’t have to be as gorgeously plated as the way it is now, because there’s really no taking your eyes (and fork) off this plate once you’ve had the fork-tender steak with the crispy, spicy garlic, the earthy mushrooms, and the smooth mash to temper the aggressive flavors.
Even regulars would hardly complain of getting tired with what Ooma has been steadily offering the past four years, and nobody really needs any convincing to come back. But Ooma has decided to woo us again anyway with a menu refresh—and with that Garlic Steak, we’re left swooning.
Photos by Majoy Siason