Sneak peek: Japanese restaurant Ooma at SM Megamall

By Karen Flores,

Posted at Jul 08 2015 05:08 PM | Updated as of Jul 09 2015 08:08 PM

MANILA – A new Japanese restaurant will open at SM Mega Fashion Hall in Mandaluyong City on Wednesday night.

Ooma, a play on the Japanese word “umai” which translates to “good,” is a result of a partnership between Chef Bruce Ricketts and The Moment Group, the same company behind 8 Cuts, ‘Cue and Manam, among others.

At Ooma, Ricketts still fuses traditional Japanese flavors with modern techniques – just like in his other concepts, Sensei Sushi and Mecha Uma – and offers them at friendlier prices. The restaurant’s interiors take inspiration from Japan’s Tsukiji Fish Market from the lights to the décor, which includes a manhole and a set of rain boots.

Here’s a look at Ooma’s Tsukiji Fish Market-inspired interiors. Photo: Handout
And here’s one area at the Tsukiji Fish Market, for comparison. Photo by Karen Flores,

Expect to see familiar dishes with creative twists at Ooma – the restaurant has gyoza with mozzarella and cheddar cheese, tori karaage covered in sweet potato strips, kakiage with corn, oyster and kimchi mayonnaise, and udon coated with a cream sauce made of sea urchin.

To Japanese food purists who are starting to shake their heads, consider taking a bite first. It’s safe to say that Ooma’s biggest strength is making Japanese cuisine more appealing than intimidating to first-timers and picky eaters without veering too far away from its roots.

While there is always a surprise element, each dish shows respect for fresh ingredients and proper technique – two things that Japanese cuisine has been known for.

Here are some of the must-try items at Ooma, as sampled by and selected members of the media during a preview dinner held on Tuesday.

This sampler includes maki with anything from ebi tempura to salmon and tuna. The pieces are a bit smaller than the usual, but are tasty nevertheless. Photo by Karen Flores,
Sous-vide hanger steak is sliced, placed on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes, topped with sautéed mushrooms and seasoned with white truffle oil and ponzu butter. The flavors are simple, clean and delicious. Photo by Karen Flores,
If you’re not a fan of dumplings, the O-Gyoza might change your mind as each piece has mozzarella and cheddar cheese, two things which are quite hard to resist. The togarashi and unagi sauce make these even more addictive. Photo by Karen Flores,
Udon noodles are coated in an uni cream sauce, with more uni and shrimp added to the mix. The resulting dish is decadent yet light, and is expected to be a bestseller. Photo by Karen Flores,
This kakiage with corn and oyster is a nice way to start a meal. Sprinkle a bit of nori salt or dip the tempura in the kimchi mayo dressing for an added layer of flavor. Photo by Karen Flores,
This might not be an ideal first date appetizer as the sweet potato strips could get stuck between your teeth, but the Tori Karaage is still worth a try with its sweet-savory flavor combo. Photo by Karen Flores,