You see, Facebook and Instagram is how I find out about all the new restaurants from my friends. They post really cool photos of what they eat and to be honest, that’s enough to make me wanna try it. My friends are very very hip and the only hip thing I have over them is that something is probably up with my acetabular labrum. Or something.
Ooma was something I’ve been meaning to try since I heard that Chef Bruce Ricketts was at the helm of the kitchen and I enjoyed dining at Mecha Uma (one of the other restaurants he is behind along with Sensei Sushi, review to follow because it’s been a while and I’m giving myself an excuse to go back). Ooma is a Japanese rice bar and their dishes focus on, you guessed it, rice and enhancing the flavor of the often times bland staple.
Mom and I (yes, it’s us again) went on a Saturday a few months after they opened at around 130pm hoping to grab a late lunch. We thought that since we stopped by a little later than the lunch rush, we’d be seated immediately. We still waited a good 20 minutes for a spot to open up for the both of us.
After perusing the menu, we started with the hamachi (yellowtail) and kani (crab leg) aburi (grilled topside) maki. The aburi maki seemed very plain to me. I don’t normally order rolls but when I do, I do prefer the fish to still be very fresh and raw and I dislike using soy sauce for dipping. Hamachi is a wonderful piece of fish on its own and I just didn’t think that torching it did it justice. I also didn’t enjoy the teriyaki sauce because it made everything sweeter.
Another starter was the uni (sea urchin) tempura tamago (sweet egg) taco maki. This one did better in my book. First off, I really like the plate/container/whatever they presented it on because I think it gave it a “rawer” feel. The pickled onions on top gave a tangy contrast and crunch to the sweet and rich sea urchin. The tamago was just kinda there and I forgot about it. I also think that eating it by hand like an actual taco was an innovative approach to interacting with food and is also the proper way of eating nigiri sushi.
Then because I’m basically addicted to ceviche, we got an Uma Viche. This dish essentially contained the marinated grouper, pickled onion, carrots, and daikon all of which sat on top of a bed of deep fried kangkong (water spinach) leaves. I found the fish itself very normal. The fish is what you would expect of traditional ceviche but I did find it more interesting to wrap the fish along with the pickles in the kangkong leaves. Two different kinds of sour tastes plus the crunch gives it more depth overall.
We got a gyudon because we felt that we should really get a rice dish at the rice bar and sous-vide beef sounded really delicious and tender. I’m not super familiar with how sous-vide works exactly but I know that the gist of it is cooking something, in this case beef, at a regulated temperature for a long period of time to ensure even cooking without the overcooking. Something like that. The gyudon came as a big serving, definitely for sharing. The beef wasn’t as tender as I expected it to be though. It was a little tough to chew and somewhat dry. The rice was also kinda dry and there didn’t seem to be a right ratio of beef to rice. The fried shallots and micro greens were decent though.
And the dish I was looking forward to the most was the hanger steak. If you’ve noticed, I really enjoy eating steak. I didn’t say beef because I’m ho hum about burgers and stuff. I specifically like steak and prime rib which probably explains my poor health… Anyway! On a bed of sweet potato mash and topped with baby potato chips, the hanger steak looked to be cooked medium rare. It’s easy to overcook because it’s so tender so that makes sense. I thought that they had sliced the poor thing too thinly though and it was kinda oozing oil. Thin steak means easier to chew but that also means not getting a lot of flavor in one go. The saving grace was probably the sweet potato mash which was also seasoned with white truffle oil and I think we can all agree that it’s very difficult to go wrong with white truffle oil.
Ooma was more of an Oo-nope for me. I actually had to go to Tuan Tuan across the hall and get a Hong Kong milk tea with coffee to cleanse my tongue a little and make myself feel better. I’m disappointed because I was just hoping for a lot more considering all the rave reviews and beautiful photos. Note to self: the internet, especially social media is a deceiving place. Maybe it wasn’t too bad for other people but hey, can’t please everyone. I guess I’ll just order a bunch of uni tempura tamago taco makis next time if I ever decide to come back because it’s very very painful to look for parking at Megamall.
3/F Mega Fashion Hall
SM Megamall, Ortigas
Mandaluyong, Metro Manila
+632 656 4591 or +63 917 539 2083
Monday to Sunday 1000H – 2200H