(SPOT.ph) The way Filipinos dine out has constantly been changing ever since the pandemic began. From relying heavily on delivery services to slowly filling the seats of their favorite food haunts, getting customers to order and eat "out" is one of the most challenging hurdles businesses are facing. And it's not just competition from other restaurants they are facing. People have realized that with enough time on their hands and trusty recipes from Youtube or blogs, they can also make good food at home. So now, food establishments have to set themselves apart from other restaurants and establish themselves as an experience different from what people could make for themselves in their own kitchens. Each brand has its way of addressing this challenge, but for the homegrown Japanese restaurant Ooma, the answer was simple—new menu items with fresh but bold flavor profiles.
Here's what Ooma's new dishes bring to the table:
Ooma has slowly been easing new items to its menu since early this year. It started with releasing two appetizers. These new small plates are a welcome change to Ooma's usual bold-flavored fare, with the newbies bringing a lighter and fresher flavor. The Cauli & Nasu Poppers (P220) and the Tuna & Beet Tartare (P330) are meant to open up the feast and get your tummies revved for the flavor bombs coming.
Go for the Cauli & Nasu Poppers if you've got a hankering for tempura with a slight sweetness. The dish is a cauliflower and eggplant tempura tossed in a honey miso sauce, which you can dip into a curry mayo sauce for a bit of spice. It's finger food perfect for afternoon snacking with your friends while chatting about the latest gossip. Think french fries but lighter.
If you prefer a refreshing meal-opener, get yourself a serving of the Tuna & Beet Tartare. This vibrant treat is not only pleasing because of its citrus and sesame notes but also because of the play on texture that's going on in the dish. You have a chewy bite from the tuna meat mixed in with firm beet cubes. But wait, don't count out the crunch from the sweet potato chips that you can use as a scoop to have all these textures in one bite. One word to describe this dish is addictive. This tartare is one we see ourselves ordering constantly.
From small bites to big munchies, Ooma also released a line of gunkan, or battleship-shaped sushi. Each serving contains four pieces of these big boys, and they deliver a filling bite. Every gunkan variety has its share of flavorful ingredients brushed with new Ooma sauces, blow-torched, and held together by a nori belt—bringing you strong punches of flavor in every bite.
Take your pick from the salty but creamy Salmon and Cheese (P295); the East Asian-inspired Chili Crab (P345) with its artful layering of different sources of heat courtesy of the spicy mayo and Szechuan peppercorn topping; and the Spicy Scallop (P375), a rich and creamy scallop-tamago mix blow-torched to bring out its deep and rich flavors.
For its line of mains and platters for sharing, Ooma's got new udon bowls and katsu hotplates. The udon bowls are saucy servings of chewy udon noodles swimming in different sauces—think spicy Asian pasta. Headlining the line is the Spicy Pork Udon (P445). This dish uses a sesame-kimchi broth base mixed with spicy tender pork strips to give it the one-two punch of umami and heat. Warning though: this dish does not hold back on that heat bit.
There are two other kinds of udon bowls, namely the Salmon Katsu Curry Udon (P550) and the Pork Katsu Curry Udon (P445). These two share the same curry-dashi broth base with a generous serving of brown butter mushrooms, but vary in the topping—choose from pork or salmon given a panko-nori crust. Whichever protein you choose, their relatively neutral flavors act as sponges that balance out the strong curry flavors in the bowls.
Capping off the new items on the menu are the hot plates which are shareable servings of Katsu—choose from Pork (P495) or Salmon (P655)—with a side of cabbage slaw. While Ooma is no stranger to katsu, they develop the classic Japanese fried treat by way of the accompanying sauces and dressing. For the cabbage slaw, a sweet scallion dressing with a sesame base is served. This dressing tastes similar to the sesame mayo dressing we all know, but with a fresh zing. But the true standout is the tangy lime-basil aioli sauce for the katsu, which is a creamy, tangy aioli meant to be a palate cleanser for when you get tired of the usual mustard-honey katsu sauce. We're salivating now, just thinking of having that tangy sauce atop of warm, freshly fried katsu.
All-in-all the new items on Ooma's menu are worth a try—who knows you might find your next go-to order. For us, we're hell-bent on having more of that Tartare and Spicy Pork Udon Bowl that's been haunting our dreams since we last had it.
Ooma is a part of the Moment Group, the same folks who brought us favorites like Manam, 8 Cuts, Mo' Cookies, and more.
See a list of Ooma branches online. All the new menu items except the Gunkans are available for dine-in, take-out, or delivery. For deliveries, you can order from the Moment Group Delivery site, GrabFood, Foodpanda, and Pickaroo. For more information, visit Ooma's Facebook page.