Ombu: An Adventure in Filipino Cuisine


ombu restaurant manila
Copyright Photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
I first noticed Ombu when it laid out its soft opening banner some months back as I munched on my Angus burger at the Burger King Timog Ave. branch across the street. I made a mental note to try it out but had completely forgotten all about it until recently when I stumbled on an online review. I didn’t finish the article because it had me at its first picture of salted egg spaghetti and that was it. I took my family the following day.

ombu restaurant manila
Copyright Photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Looking at its menu, it seemed that what Ombu meant by “modern” is they reinvent traditional Filipino food by merging them into one dish, substitute one ingredient for another, or “Filipinize” foreign cuisines. And you know what? It works! It works so well that one wonders why it has not been done before.

ombu restaurant manila
Copyright Photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
This was our very first order: lechon kawali dinuguan. Lechon kawali (pan-roasted pork belly) and dinuguan (pork blood stew, yup, you read that right) are two classic Filipino dishes. They are usually separate but Ombu combined them together and they complement each other real well. The blood sauce became the pork’s gravy instead of the usual liver gravy. In fact, I like it this way now.

ombu restaurant manila
Copyright Photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Next, we had the sisig which is usually a grilled pork dish cooked in vinegar and chili peppers. But instead of the usual jowl and ears, it was mahi-mahi (common dolphinfish) to make it seem healthier (never mind that it’s fried to the crisp). It was a bit dry for my taste but my family enjoyed it.

ombu restaurant manila
Copyright Photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
We didn’t order the salted egg pasta but instead, we requested for the salted egg tempura which was very tasty and was a welcome treat from the usual tempura. However, it would have been a lot better if the shrimps were not so tiny that they were almost incidental to the dish. It felt like I was just eating the batter. No matter how delicious it was, you get tired of it after one serving as it was too rich.

ombu restaurant manila
Copyright Photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
We ordered one conventional dish, the laing, a spicy vegetable dish cooked in coconut milk. Now, I’m no cook or food connoisseur but it was a bit too “stewy” for me, almost soggy as I am used to creamy laing. I’m not sure if this is Ombu’s new take or that’s the way how it is prepared in some parts of the country. Nevertheless, it was not disappointing, just different from what I am used to.

I ordered its house brewed iced tea which wasn’t bad if it wasn’t named that way which raised my expectations. Brewed or not, it had that Sunquick taste which I used to love as a kid but became too sweet for my taste growing up. Next time (and there will be one), I am sticking to plain old water.

Menu prices range from P200-350.

Ombu is located at G/F Sequoia Hotel, #91-93 Mother Ignacia St., Quezon City. You may also check out its Facebook page or call (02) 441-1789.

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