Eating at a fusion restaurant can be a strange experience at times. There are moments as if the food itself doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. I’ve been lucky enough not to have any peculiar meals at fusion restaurants I’ve been to, but in my opinion, the key to success when you’re attempting to depart from the traditional way of serving dishes from a particular cuisine is to never forget the root of it. For example, if your restaurant is serving fusion takes on say, Filipino food, I think it’s important to keep the dish at least 80% Filipino. Trying too hard sometimes creates a weird Frankenstein plate of food, and that’s not always a good thing.
I’m happy to say that OMBU seems to understand my idea of a good fusion restaurant. Their modern takes on Filipino dishes still retain most of its traditional structure and essence, with a little something-something extra that makes many of their dishes rather memorable.
The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the Sequoia Hotel in South Triangle, Quezon City. I don’t frequent this area so I honestly had no idea about this restaurant, and I can’t even remember how we came to be here, but the important part is the discovery a very affordable and fairly quiet little restaurant with a nice clean ambiance and friendly staff. And oh yes, let’s not forget about the food!
Starting with the appetizers, I’d have to say right off the bat these Garlic Crablets (Php 220) hit all the right notes. Crunchy with pleasant garlic notes, munching on these little crabbies were an absolute joy. It’s the type of dish you’d have a fork-fight over when only the last piece is left.
Deep fried crunchy food, for your information, is an integral part of Filipino cuisine. I’d be shocked if they messed this dish up!
Because we always have salad when we eat out, we ordered some Mediterranean-Inspired Salad (Php 190), composed of lettuce, lola rosa, tomatoes, cucumber, and some nacho chips. It’s topped with kesong puti and creamy garlic yoghurt-mayo dressing. Honestly this salad was neither here nor there, and I don’t really see anything Filipino about it, but it was a refreshing way to start the meal.
Next came our soup, which was one of my favourite dishes of the meal. I love soup, but this in particular has become one of my favourites in recent years. The Binakol (Php 260) is a soup that is mostly flavoured by the chicken, ginger, and lemongrass it is boiled with. It’s basically chicken tinola, but the soup is sweetened by the addition of coconut water and meat. Then there’s the native chicken that’s been simmered to a lovely tenderness alongside the green papaya and pepper leaves. SO GOOD.
It’s a boiling pot of things I like!
The Bagoong Rice (Php 135) is fairly straightforward: rice fried in Filipino shrimp paste. Still some people either cook it too bland or too salty. This one was nicely balanced, providing a perfect accompaniment to the next dishes that came out. Word of warning though, savoury rice can sometimes cause a bigger appetite!
To eat with the rice we ordered some dishes cooked in the ways we like best. First up, anything in coconut sauce is always a winner. This Gising-Gising (Php 170) not only has a cute name, it’s also rich and tasty. It’s basically sautéed green beans and ground pork resting in thick spicy coconut sauce. I like spicy food so this was just right up my alley. In my opinion, the spiciness level was just right. Look at those tiny red pieces of chilli. YUMMMM.
Now the Seafood Mix Laing (Php 200) was a bit of a disappointment for me. I LOOOOVE laing, but this was strangely too salty for my taste. This dish is a mixture of shrimp, crab meat, onions, and lemongrass, all wrapped in a pretty taro leaf package. The whole thing is then cooked in light coconut milk.
One of the most interesting things on their menu is their Salted Egg Tempura (Php 380). Basically it’s shrimp tempura, but the coating has this buttery, salted egg flavour. It’s interesting though not a favourite dish of mine personally. My brothers did enjoy these a great deal though, and I’ve been seeing other restaurants come up with versions of this as well so I know for a fact it’s gaining quite a following.
I might have to eat the dish again to gain more appreciation.
This next dish is also high up on my favourites list along with the soup. The Beef Kaldereta Pie (Php 370) is a clever take on classic kaldereta. By using the idea of a shepherd’s pie, they added a layer of mashed potatoes on top of their own version of the savoury tomato-based beef stew. Both the mashed potatoes and the kaldereta had some really great flavours so the dish as a whole worked beautifully!
I’m planning to replicate this dish in my kitchen. That’s how much I liked it!
And finally we get to our last dish. At this point we were already pretty full, but the moment we saw the Sisig Pizza (Php 490) being set before our eyes, we knew we had to get a bite of it!
It’s sooo pretty. It merits a close-up shot.
Now to be honest, I’m not a fan of sisig, but this was a nice way of serving it up. Apart from the sisig itself, we get onions, green chilli, mozarella, and kesong puti as toppings. That whole egg cracked in the middle of the pizza was the perfect touch to making this feel genuinely like sisig. I only wish the crust was a little better, because it was a little tough. Even cutting it with a knife was a chore, sending the toppings flying all over the place. Definitely eat it with your hands, and even then, carefully.
If I were to be completely honest, OMBU exceeded my expectations. It’s one of those underrated places that serve hearty food at affordable prices. I think this is a good place to eat out with college buddies, and I do believe OMBU runs discount promos quite often.
I actually have an eye out for dishes such as the Salted Egg Spaghettini, Lambanog Creme Penne, and the Seafood Pizza (with Smoked Bangus!) for the next time we return. We didn’t get to try dessert and their merienda items either so that’s something else to look forward to. There seems to be something to like for everyone!
OMBU Modern Filipino Restaurant
Ground Floor, Sequoia Hotel,
91-93 Mother Ignacia Ave., Corner Timog Avenue,
Near Tomas Morato, South Triangle, Quezon City
Hours: 6:30 AM to 11:00 PM
Tel No.: (02) 441-1789; (02) 441-0518
Full disclosure: This meal was absolutely not sponsored in any way and all opinions stated above are my own.