After encountering it in a local magazine, some friends, and a food blog or two, I felt like it was a disgrace for me to not have eaten at Omakase yet, considering it they had a branch at Alabang Town Center, the mall I frequent most.
So, last Friday, we finally decided to find out what it was all about. Omakase, in Japanese, means “to entrust.” This term is used mostly in sushi bars, where asking for Omakase means you’re entrusting the sushi chef to choose for you, in lieu of ordering ala carte.
While we were not able to eat “omakase,” it was still a pleasant experience since everything we ordered tasted good. Omakase has the usual Japanese Restaurant staples like various tempura, teppan and donburi. But while everything looked yummy, we agreed to order stuff we don’t find at the usual Japanese restaurants, nor anything I can cook. Since we heard that the house specialty was the various fusion maki, that’s what we went for.
Seeing various mixed platters, we went for the JSC Platter since both the Jurassic and Seabreeze sounded good. Along with the Crazy Maki, it proved to be a good choice. The Crazy Maki (leftmost) had spicy tuna and salmon on the inside, then ebiko (shrimp roe) and scallions on the outside. Yummy and satisfying, it had a slight spiciness, thanks to the tuna.
Seabreeze had ebi(shrimp) tempura (!) and salmon on the inside, then tuna on top. Love thanks to the delicious soft, melty tuna and salmon. No tough, jointy fish here. Just fantastically fresh, sushi grade cuts.
But the star of the show, or of the platter, was Jurassic. Full of yummy goodness: ebi tempura, kani (crab), ebiko, salmon skin (!) wrapped in sushi rice, then topped with savory barbecued unagi (eel), more ebiko, scallions, and sesame seeds. Jurassic has a flavorful punch that assaults your tastebuds, in a good way. Plus, there’s the bonus of textural play with a curious crunch. I’m not quite sure if it’s the tempura or the salmon skin; either way, it was a nice, light crunch that kept things interesting. The whole platter was served with a dish of what I assume to be kewpie mayo, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. Omakase’s trademark dipping sauce, it made the flavorful selections even richer. Still, the quaint flavor of sesame seeds kept me coming back for more.
Along with the JSC platter, my mom insisted on grabbing a plate of Oyster Butteryaki. I was not totally sold on the idea; oysters are after all, a tad expensive. After taking one bite though, I was a quick convert.
Luxurious and oh-so-rich, the oysters were cooked in butter and ponzu (I think) for an intense flavor that coats your tongue in a non-cloying manner. It’s the type of taste that’ll leave you speechless. In fact, after taking a bite, all I could do was make appreciative, grunts of delight. It was simply perfect!
To end the meal, I decided to go for a serving of Ice Cream Tempura. My mom and Paddy begged off, saying they were stuffed. While I’m not a dessert person myself, I knew I had to try the Ice Cream Tempura, if only to satisfy my curiosity. Good for us all, I insisted on ordering. Paddy ended up eating half of my dessert. Apparently, he thought that it was something like Ebi Tempura with a scoop of ice cream. So when he saw a dish of something sweet looking served, he was quick to grab a spoon and give it a shot. Served with mango cubes, we agreed that it reminded us of a mango crepe. (Ah, Cafe Breton’s Fantastic Pinay with Ice Cream. But then, that’s another story I’d leave for another day.)
Omakase satisfied us very much, and with the decent prices (everything cost us roughly 1k PHP) we knew we were coming back. And on Sunday, with our friends in tow, we did come back for even more maki.
Intent on ordering something I haven’t tried (plus, we ordered a JSC to share), I decided on the Philadelphia Maki. Stuffed with tuna, kani, cucumber, mango, ebiko, scallions, and cream cheese, the Philadephia Maki was smooth as silk on the tongue, thanks to the cream cheese. The mix of sweet and savory, along with the crunch from the cucumber was perfect.
Chris ordered the American Dream. The menu described it as salmon, kani and cream cheese that’s deep fried. I’m not quite sure though, if it’s really salmon or cooked tuna. It reminded me more of tuna than cooked salmon. Or maybe the frying process cooked it? Still, it was a good choice, especially with the light, crisp tempura batter coating the whole thing.
Jamie had a soup dish whose name I forget. The flavors though, I won’t. It had lapu-lapu (grouper) with firm, sweet flesh. The soup was a light dashi, and the vegetables and silken tofu were plentiful. It was served with a soy based sauce that added a sweet and salty dimension to the fresh flavored dish.
Not content with my Philly Maki, I ordered for the Omakase maki, a kani cucumber roll topped with salmon and sesame seeds. It was okay. The salmon they used was good but it was pretty traditional.
Also notable was their house tea. Even tea afficionado Jamie was quick to say it was delicious. We weren’t able to ask what it was but she’s betting on brown rice tea. I wouldn’t be surprised, it had the full-bodied flavor of rice that I don’t usually find in lighter leaf or flower-based tea.
After all the delicious dishes I tried, I know that I’ll be coming back again and again to Omakase. I want to try other stuff from their menu, not only to indulge in the varying tastes, but also to get more ideas for my own cooking. Still, nothing beats sitting down, grabbing a menu, then being served a lovely, freshly prepared dish.
All I can say is Itadakimasu!
Omakase can be found at the G/F Casa Susana & Vicente, Alabang Town Center.