Saturday, January 8, 2011

Modern Japanese Cuisine at Omakase

First of all, I'd like to greet everyone a happy new year! I know it's been ages since we last posted, but don't worry because we're back for good! :)

Today I'd like to talk about a place that practically everyone is familiar with and is easily my favorite among the Japanese food offerings in Manila. I'm talking about Omakase, a trendy Japanese restaurant with good food that gives a modern twist to old classics.

According to my trusty source, Wikipedia, Omakase is actually a Japanese term meaning "It's up to you", and is a style of serving food in sushi restaurants, where it's "up to" the chef to serve you a complementary (by which I mean they complement each other, not free) series of dishes meant to be eaten one at a time. While this Omakase does not exactly offer this type of service, it's interesting to note because their name suggests that they put utmost importance in the quality, presentation and service that they offer to their customers.

The interior
As you can see from the photos, the place is decorated in a contemporary style that reflects their fusion cuisine, blending old Japanese with modern Western tastes.

First of all we have this seaweed salad. Unfortunately I don't know the exact name, but I'm pretty sure the waiter will know if you ask for it when you order. Anyway, this salad is light and refreshing while crunchy at the same time. It's seasoned with toasted sesame seeds, giving it a nice nutty flavor as well.

Seaweed salad

The next dish is Spicy Tuna Salad, containing large chunks of fresh raw tuna dressed in spicy Japanese mayo, with bits of fried tempura batter which I can't help but think are those bits of batter left in the fryer when they're making tempura, but it doesn't matter because this dish is just amazing. Don't worry about the spiciness, because it's only mildly spicy, just enough to give a kick to the dish.

A long time ago, I actually refused to eat raw fish, because the first time I tried it (in another Japanese restuarant) it was too slimy and fishy for my tastes. But once I encountered this Spicy Tuna Salad at Omakase, I was forever converted, true story.

Spicy Tuna Salad
Next is Salmon Sashimi, probably the most popular Japanese dish next to California Maki. It's an acquired taste, to be sure, but Omakase's version, while seemingly identical to that of other Japanese restaurants, is of perfect quality and taste. The fish was sliced perfectly, just thick enough for you to taste its freshness. A quick dip in soy sauce and/or wasabi, and it's heaven.

Salmon Sashimi
While Baked Oysters are not exactly common Japanese fare, Omakase does it so well that I can't even be bothered to protest. The problem with baked oysters at other restaurants is that it's such a small serving, with each person getting barely one whole oyster. However, this one puts several oysters in each shell, so everyone is happy! I know I sound petty, but seriously, how frustrating is it to get a large plateful of oysters only to get barely one spoonful of anything edible out of it?

Baked Oysters
Omakase offers a huge assortment of maki, and we ordered this SAR platter, consisting of the American Dream, and two other rolls starting with the letters S and R, which I don't remember.

The American Dream was delicious, with salmon and cream cheese, covered with batter and deep fried. It's perfect for customers who don't like raw fish. It's to be dipped in the sweet soy sauce/Japanese mayo combo dip served together with the platter.

One other roll was a spicy tuna roll (a little too spicy for me, but pretty good, nevertheless), while the other was filled with crispy salmon skin. They were all excellent, but I wish I could remember what they were called. :(

SAR Sushi Platter
Miso has always played a special role in Japanese food culture, and it's most commonly made into soup as it's quick and hassle free. However, miso soup is also easy to mess up, but Omakase doesn't fail. With plenty of seafood, tofu and seaweed, their miso soup is warm and comforting with a true authentic taste.

Miso soup
The fried rice at Omakase has meat, scrambled eggs, fluffy rice and sweet soy sauce, plus fresh veggies like carrots and green onions. You can order it in individual portions or in a large bowl, good for 4, like the one pictured below.

Fried rice
Tofu steak is just what its name suggests: it's tofu wrapped in steak. The thinly sliced beef is flavorful, although it could be more tender. The silky soft tofu more than makes up for it though, and the buttery sauce is perfect to go with rice.

Tofu steak
Tempura is another bestseller for Japanese restaurants in the Philippines, and again, Omakase does it well. An order of ebi (prawn) tempura even comes with extra vegetable tempuras like sweet potato and okra.

Ebi tempura
This last dish is like a different version of Cordon Bleu. I don't remember what it's called, but it's a fried chicken roll stuffed with bacon, with a mayo dip on the side. I actually didn't like it because I don't enjoy fried foods, and the bacon made it a little too greasy, so just a little bit is enough to satisfy me.

Chicken-bacon roll (?)
Aaaaand... that's it for today! I know that it seems like I'm eating so much at Omakase, but I was actually there with around fifteen other people, so trust me, this is not a lot. Plus, there are sooooo many wonderful dishes at Omakase that trying out a few dishes is not enough. Practically everything they serve is good, so this post has just barely scratched the surface. What you need to do now is get up and get yourself to the nearest branch! Or maybe tomorrow, since it's the middle of the night and they close at 10 pm.

Do let us know what you think with a comment or a message on our tagboard to the right! If you have any suggestions on places in Metro Manila we just have to try, feel free to leave a note! :)

UG/Level 2, Il Terrazzo Mall, Tomas Morato, QC
Tel. No.: 332-4115
Branches: Alabang Town Center; Libis

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