Location: 3rd Level, SM Mega Fashion Hall, Megamall, Mandaluyong City
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 10:00pm Daily
Telephone Numbers (Reservations may be accepted): 4035937, 8041646
OOMA Japanese Rice Bar SM Megamall Menu
OOMA Japanese Rice Bar by Chef Bruce Ricketts at SM Mega Fashion Hall
After Bistro du Vin and Linguini Fini, The Moment Group ventures into OOMA Japanese Rice Bar with no less than Chef Bruce Ricketts, chef extraordinaire of Sensei Sushi and Mecha Uma. Japanese cuisine here in the metro is showing no signs of slowing down, as customers can be seen ditching the usual TuanTuan Chinese Brasserie and even the notoriously popular Tim Ho Wan, whose lines are noticeably shorter already.
My expectation for OOMA’s maki selection pegs at an all time high, after trying out Niko Niko Sushi in Los Angeles. I can see Ooma setting the bar high for the trend on serving dishes at smaller plates here in Manila similar to State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, but such trend comes at a higher price: food has to be carefully prepared with undeniable precision, consistency, and art, now that dishes come in smaller servings. Mecha Uma might have thrown in the art of a beautiful mess on a plate and Sensei Sushi plays with the strengths of Japanese cuisine with its hole-in-a-wall personality, but how will the commercialized Ooma fare versus the others?
We badly need better Japanese restaurants, the likes of Akira, Osaka Ohsho, Watami, Wafu, Oedo, and several other middle range restaurants that don’t really give a better run for our money. Scrimping of ingredients, substandard practices and absurd prices are the usual characteristics for such mid-range restaurants that continue to fool customers, whereas the classic Kimpura and Sugi are too expensive for such an old brand, when everyone expects it to be the first ones to innovate.
OOMA banks on being bold in flavors while still retaining the notable taste buds one experiences in Japanese cuisine. Its ambience gives out playful Tsukiji-inspired interiors, complete with rain boots and seafood condiments.
Salmon Tartare Aburi Maki – P295
While I can agree that Ooma’s Salmon Tartare Aburi Maki is a step ahead than the other restaurants serving rolls here in Manila, this needs more improvement and more consistency. Pieces were unevenly created, and scallops weren’t found in other pieces. If one wants to see how a fusion maki roll is better made, check out Niko Niko Sushi located in Los Angeles, where each of the maki rolls were equally created, with generous portions of salmon on top of the roll. I didn’t taste any Uni Aioli in this roll which could have been its selling point. I find the maki steeply priced for these reasons and Ooma’s potential was supposedly found in these rolls.
As it is done “Aburi” or torched, you’re given paintbrushes to glaze these with sweet soy sauce.
O-Gyoza – P235
One of the popular dishes at Ooma is O-Gyoza, the gratinated mozzarella and cheddar cheese bringing in the gooeyness of the cheese into your everyday Japanese dumplings. I’m not big when it comes to dumplings, but Ooma’s O-Gyoza is one you must order when eating at Ooma. I didn’t taste any Togarashi peppers though and there was a faint taste of unagi sauce in this.
Ebi Tempura – P385
I find 7 piece Ooma’s Ebi Tempura at a good price point, the Aligue Mayo and Avocado mousse giving a bold taste to your usual tempura rather than dipping it in the Soy Ginger sauce we all love. I’d recommend this dish for those who come with larger groups.
What I find especially good at Ooma is the fact they give out unlimited rice which appeals to everyone. Just simply order any hot plate, and everyone in the group gets rice. I wish more restaurants would do this, but of course, it comes with food wastage, but I think we can do plenty of restrictions in giving out free rice.
For those who come in smaller groups and can’t afford to share the hot plates, Ooma’s Gyudon, Oyakodon and Buta Kakuni Katsudon have good serving size, something that I appreciate in Ooma.
Tori Karaage – P245
Perhaps the only dish I find to be quite stellar and presents the whole proposition of Ooma to be a bold and new Japanese concept is the Tori Karaage, the strings of sweet potato giving the glazed chicken thigh a crunch that you can’t resist.
Hanger Steak – P495
Ooma’s Hanger Steak is supposedly made to uplift one’s dining experience at Ooma and I halfheartedly agree. I love the bed of sweet potato mash and the stench of white truffle oil and mushrooms that give it a juicy texture. The hanger steak, on the other hand, fell flat, which is supposedly done sous-vide to lock in all the flavours and give it a tender texture. The meat was slightly dry and tasted bland and I found myself drizzling it more with sweet potato mash to give some flavor to it.
Buta Kakuni Udon – P365
I feel a bit disappointed with Ooma’s Buta Kakuni Udon, the slow-roasted Kakuni was nowhere in sight in this bowl. What topped the stir fry udon were strips of Kakuni that hardly tasted like belly. Though the udon noodles were springy and bounced at every slurp, this bowl was way overpriced for its intentions. I’d love to see slabs of Kakuni on top of the udon and give it a bolder twist.
Overall, Ooma fares better than the rest of the Japanese restaurants in terms of taste but its soft opening stage shouldn’t give it any reason for the service to be all over the place. Lines are incredibly long when you don’t have reservations, as several diners tend to stay longer after they’ve eaten, which becomes inconvenient to those waiting in line. Tables and chairs are wrongly positioned and what could have been two more tables added beside the reception area was filled with seats meant for people to wait. Ooma should consider putting a time limit for diners like The Dining Room in Hong Kong so to manage their customers better. Service needs more training, which I find not acceptable since the Moment Group runs its operations and they have much training coming from 8 Cuts Burger Blends, Phat Pho and Cue Modern Barbecue.
My first experience at Ooma doesn’t leave much impression for me to crave their California Taco-Maki and Tataki. It’s really different when the restaurant is operational, techniques already passed down to operational chefs, Chef Bruce Ricketts nowhere in sight, and you’re paying for your meals. That’s where the real review comes in, minus exaggeration and “delicious” adjectives to every dish.
Ooma Japanese Rice Bar Rating:
|Taste and Originality:||( 3 / 5)|
|Customer Experience:||( 2 / 5)|
|Value for Money:||( 3.5 / 5)|
|Brick and Mortar:||( 2.5 / 5)|
|Average:||(2.8 / 5)|