In a country where rice is king, we search for options. While a bowl of piping hot rice will never fail to satisfy, there’s always the undeniable draw of something new: the dirty rice from that restaurant, the paella from that other restaurant, and, of course, sushi, which commences an entirely new love affair all together.
But even sushi has stretched into realms further from the typical tuna and salmon rolls. In Manila, going the extra mile with your sushi is only as far as the nearest Ooma. Unapologetically hip, Ooma, by The Moment Group, has a vibe that’s energetic, loudly subversive, and a theme that’s more original than traditional. The kitchen (headed by wunderkind Bruce Ricketts) bargains flavor for subtlety without coming off all gimmicky: tacos cross over with temakis, karaage comes covered in shoestring potatoes, chimichurri laces noodles, and rice is celebrated.
In the past three years since it first opened in Megamall, Ooma has become known for their playful take on rolls and torched sushi and like every other TMG establishment, no two Oomas are ever the same. The newest one in Salcedo Village goes for cozy to match their comforting rice-centered menu. It does away with rice-free crowdpleasers like the uni udon or the anago mushroom truffle soba (don't worry, they kept the sous-vide hanger steak because they're not that cruel) and replaces them with soon-to-be-new favorites like the spicy tuna taco maki, the surpisingly novel outcome from a tried and tested combination of tuna, scallions (with togarashi) and aioli (with wasabi) and the salmon miso maki (again, a favored combination with cream cheese, cucumber, and asparagus—both exclusive to this branch.
Spicy Tuna Taco Maki
Salmon Miso Maki
Crab and Kani Maki
An easy challenge for the standard carb lover is the aburi bowls: sushi rice seasoned to perfection then topped either with seared squid and braised pork or with fresh cut tuna and torched salmon. Both bowls are generously dressed with bonito flakes, corn, aioli, togarashi, apples—everything to help push the flavors even more.
Salmon Aburi and Spicy Tuna Bowl: tuna and torched salmon, aioli, ceviche dressing, green apples, toasted nori, fried leeks, bonito flakes
Pork and Squid Takoyaki Bowl: seared squid, braised pork, cabbage, corn, sesame, scallions, aioli, togarashi, and bonito flakes
One of the few non-sushi options is the kimchi gyoza, beautifully fried dumplings drizzled with a fiery bright orange sauce. Each bites detonates into tasty juices.
Open till late, Ooma Salcedo also emphatically serves beer and sake to neighbors looking for a nightcap—or a titillating dessert. They have lychee sake sorbet and a yuzu cheesecake gelato courtesy of Manila Creamery.
Other new offerings kimchi prawn and enoki aburi maki and unagi mentaiko aburi maki are available in other Ooma branches.
A little after lunch on a Tuesday and Ooma Salcedo is full, with more people waiting outside for seats. Rice will always be appealing anywhere in this side of the world, but Ooma goes far beyond satisfying a craving.
Ooma Salcedo is at Paseo Heights, L.P. Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City; open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (weekdays) and until 12 a.m. (Saturdays).