CALGARY, Alberta – Sisig nachos, tipsy tapsilog, siopao sliders – Filipino food or not?
That is the question Filipino and non-Filipino customers ask when they taste the one-of-a-kind cuisines at Oohmami Pares House and Noodle Bar.
As the first restaurant of its kind in Alberta, Oohmami chefs and owners Sonny Ong and John Nidua set up their business to put Filipino food on the map, but with a twist.
"The difference is it is Filipino-inspired," said Nidua. "It’s not really traditional, so if you are looking for traditional Filipino food, we don't have that here but we have Filipino-inspired food so that's something you grew up with, it may not look like it but it will taste like it."
The business took more than a year in planning and it wasn’t easy, but with their passion for Pinoy food, they created pop-up restaurants last year. They invited friends to introduce their creative menus before finally opening Oohmami last December.
Chef Ong said that many were amazed with the unique takes on Filipino dishes they create. He said that Filipino food is a very diverse cuisine.
"We were under the Spanish for 300 years, lots of Chinese migrants, and all that plus the Philippines is like a melting pot plus the indigenous ingredients that we have," said Ong. "I want to share that to the rest of the world."
Customer and meat vendor Andy Giles has tried everything on the menu and says everything is simply delicious.
His all-time favorite is the tipsy tapsilog.
"Every time you look at the menu, you just want to get something else and keep eating," said Giles. "We'll keep ordering multiple times on the menu as opposed to getting one thing and you know being done with the meal."
Filipino American Atty. Marsha Laine Dungog, who moved to Calgary from Michigan, missed some of the great Pinoy restaurants in Grand Rapids.
When she discovered Oohmami, it has simply become her home away from home.
"I like many things about Oohmami," said Dungog. "Number one, the food is contemporary. It’s modern. Its served in really cool dishes. It’s a no fuss kind of place and most importantly, the chefs are hot."
Chefs John and Sonny hope to expand on their passion for Pinoy food with another branch in Canada and even Los Angeles, California.