Turning Japanese at Omakase

LOCATION: Connecticut Carpark Arcade, Greenhills Shopping Center, Ortigas Avenue, Greenhills, San Juan City, Philippines

Omakase is a Japanese restaurant owned by brothers-in-law Ed Encisa, a former chef in a Japanese restaurant abroad, and Rico Rosales. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, homesick Ed seriously considered going back to the Philippines. They then came up with the plan to start a business during one of their conversations, the needed push for Ed to finally go home.1

The term omakase is Japanese for “I’ll leave it up to you”, from makaseru, Japanese meaning “to entrust”. This term is used by patrons of sushi2 restaurants to leave the selection to the chef, as opposed to ordering a la carte.  Customers who order omakase-style expect the chef to be innovative and surprising in the selection of dishes, and the meal can be likened to an artistic performance by the chef. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Omakasa”.3

They started with a small takeout counter in Quezon City in 2002, serving three kinds of maki4 at affordable prices for office workers and students.The counter eventually became known for its affordable sushi2 rolls. Ed and Rico initially split the capital of PHP80,000.1

After six months, Omakase expanded its space for dining tables. Prices were slightly increased until daily earnings spiked to PHP10,000. After a year, their relatives chipped in to open the first restaurant in Libis, Quezon City (now closed).1

Ed continued to concoct different sushi2 rolls, ebi5 tempura6 with salmon skin, salmon with cream cheese, and deep-fried soft-shell maki4.1

Omakase eventually opened branches in:

  1. Ayala Triangle Gardens, Paseo de Roxas Street corner Makati Avenue corner Ayala Avenue, Makati City (now closed)
  2. ESJ Building, Mayor Gil Fernando Avenue, San Roque, Marikina City
  3. Molito Complex, Madrigal Avenue, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City
  4. 3/F, Ayala Malls Feliz, Dela Paz, Pasig City
  5. G/F, Banawe Lifestyle Center, Banawe corner Don Manuel Agregado Street, Sto. Domingo, Banawe, Quezon City
  6. G/F. Il Terrazo Mall, Tomas Morato Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City – Tel. No.: (02) 332-4115
  7. Pwesto Community Mall, 56 Holy Spirit Drive, Don Antonio Heights, Quezon City – Tel. No.: (02) 285-9089
  8. Connecticut Carpark Arcade, Greenhills Shopping Center, Ortigas Avenue, Greenhills, San Juan City (this is the branch I recently visited and will blog about)

The Greenhills branch is open from 11 AM to 10 PM.

greenhills.com.phPhoto from http://www.greenhills.com.ph

It offers a wide variety of Japanese dishes as well as set meals and party trays. Hot, cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available too. The menu card has 22 pages, with inviting colored pictures of its specialties!

Here are the specific dishes offered (pictures from menu card):

APPETIZERS IMG_5008-appetizers

SALADS IMG_5011-ok

SOUPS AND NOODLES 

IMG _5033-SOUPS-ok

SUSHIIMG_5013-sushi-ok

MAKIMONOIMG_5016-makimono-1-ok

IMG_5017-makimono-2-ok

MAIN DISHES IMG_5019-ok

TEMPURA6, FURAI8 AND DONBURIIMG_5020-ok

SET MEALS, PARTY TRAYS, DESSERTS IMG_5023-ok

SIDE ORDERS, BEVERAGES IMG_5025-ok

Omakase is also promoting the Torikatsu Sandwich, served with coffee and fries on the side as well as Kani Mango Sandwich. Perhaps, I will taste them on my next visit. IMG_5006-promo-ok

Omakase-Greenhills also offers Buffet Packages and Cart Catering

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My husband, my son, and I, accompanied a niece and her 7-year-old son to Greenhills. For our dining experience on May 2019 – we ordered:

1.SEAFOOD TEPPAN (PHP 470) – A seafood platter consisting of pan-fried salmon, tuna, shrimps, and squid. It was served with garlic rice. This order can be shared by 2-3 persons and the tasty seafood was enjoyed by all the members of my group. The seafood was fresh and served hot for us to savor with the accompanying dipping sauce.

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2. MISO SOUP (PHP65 per single serving) – This soup was served hot, tasty, a bit creamy, and is not salty.

3. EBI5 TEMPURA6 (Shrimp Tempura, PHP370 for 5 pieces) – This crispy, coated, deep-fried shrimp dish is a staple order in any Japanese restaurant. I found the shrimps small, based on the selling price. I also wished that the dip had more daikon10.

IMG_5032-ok

4. GYUDON (PHP305) – This donburi9 dish consists of sliced beef, mushrooms, onions over rice, topped with an egg, served on a bowl. We asked for two orders. It was served hot and the amount of rice was very generous. The beef was tender and the accompanying onions and mushrooms cooked with the beef made this dish more enjoyable.

IMG_5028

5. CHICKEN TERIYAKI (240) – This order consists of grilled chicken, cooked in teriyaki sauce, a favorite of our dearest 7-year-old grandson. I personally find the serving portion a bit small. However, it was very tasty and well appreciated by our 7-year-old kid. The proof? He finished it all! Bottomline, Omakase dishes are also good for kids.

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We arrived sometime 7:00 PM and the main dining area at the second floor was already full. The place looked a bit old but well-maintained.

Fortunately, the smaller function room at the ground floor was available and that was where we dined. We were asked to wait a bit at the second floor, go over the menu card, and after about 10 minutes, we were ushered to the function room below. It was clean, tables were set, ventilation was comfortable, and the room smelled good.

I must say that the wait staff was accommodating despite the large number of guests at the upper floor and the function room was soon fully occupied. Our additional orders were a bit delayed but were worth the wait.

The prices are reasonable, and we got discounts with our Senior Citizen IDs. Cash and credit cards are accepted. Please check prices before visiting this restaurant.

I did not have the chance to visit their rest room so I cannot comment on this matter.

By the way, Omakase is now available on GrabFood11 so you can have your favorite Japanese dishes delivered to your doorstep!12

Contact information: Telephone Number: (02) 470-9807 (table booking is recommended); Cellphone Number: +63 9302523575; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iloveomakase; Twitter/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iwantomakase

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my visit in this restaurant.

Pictures used in the cover picture collage were obtained from the menu card of Omakase Greenhills (starting from top right, clockwise): Sushi Cake, Seafood Yeppan, Tuna Tataki Salad, Mixed Nigiri and Salmon Sashimi

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially those not familiar with Japanese and Filipino terms, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1https://news.abs-cbn.com/business/07/15/16/meet-the-pinoys-behind-omakase

2Sushi is a Japanese dish made of specially prepared vinegared (medium grain white rice or brown) rice, usually with some sugar and rice, combined with a variety of ingredients (e.g., raw/cooked seafood, vegetables, tropical fruits), served as an appetizer or as a main dish. Fillings, toppings, condiments (shoyu16, wasabi18, Japanese-style mayonnaise) and preparation vary widely. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Sushi”.13

3“Omakase,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omakase

4Maki, short for makizushi, is rolled sushi2 formed into a cylindrical piece using a bamboo mat called a makisu. It is generally wrapped in nori (dried seaweed) then cut into 6 or 8 pieces, for a single roll order. Information is according to Wikipedia page “Sushi”.13

5Ebi is the Japanese term for shrimp. Thus, ebi tempura is shrimp tempura6.

6Tempura is a Japanese dish, usually consisting of seafood (e.g., shrimp, squid rings) or vegetables (e.g., strips of carrot, eggplant, onion) that have been battered and deep fried. It is eaten hot immediately after frying, and may be sprinkled with powdered green tea and sea salt, or yuzu and salt, before eating. It is commonly served with tentsuyu sauce (about 3 parts dashi14, 1 part each of mirin15 and shoyu16) and grated daikon10. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Tempura”.17

7Makimono, makizushi, or norimaki is a kind of “rolled sushi2”, according to the Wikipedia page “Sushi”.13 It is called maki4, for short. Makimono is Japanese for “rolled thing”.

8Furai is a Japanese dish made of deep-fried fish, shrimp or seafood, coated with a thin layer of panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), and served with a tangy sauce.19

9Donburi is a Japanese rice bowl dish consisting of fish, meat, vegetables, and other ingredients simmered together and served over rice. It is sometimes shortened to “don”. Information is according to Wikipedia page “Donburi”.21

10Daikon, literally “big root,” is a mild-flavored winter radish. It is originally native to Southeast or continental Asia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Daikon”.20

11GrabFood is a service of Grab, a Singaporean transportation network company operating in the Philippines, which allows (as of May 2019)  BGC, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Ortigas, Pasay, Quezon City, and San Juan residents to satisfy their food cravings, by delivering orders from their favorite restaurants daily, except holidays, from 9 am – 9 pm. It is so easy: through your cell phone, launch the Grab app and select “Food” from the product selection menu at the top of the app, enter your delivery address, select your favorite restaurant (within a given distance from your location for speedy deliveries, for now), select a meal, add to your basket (no minimum purchase), complete your order, wait for an assigned GrabFood delivery partner to pick up your orders for you, and deliver it to your doorsteps.22

12https://www.facebook.com/weloveomakase/

13“Sushi,” accessed July 5, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushi

14Dashi is a class of soup and cooking stock used in Japanese cuisine. The most common form of dashi is a simple broth or fish stock made by heating water containing kombu (edible kelp) and kezurikatsuo (shavings of katsuobushi – preserved, fermented skipjack tuna. It forms the base for miso soup, clear broth, noodle broth, and many kinds of simmering liquid. It can also be mixed into flour base of some grilled foods. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Dashi”.23

15Mirin is an essential condiment used in Japanese cuisine. It is a type of rice wine, similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mirin”.24

16Shoyu is the Japanese term for soy sauce, according to the Wikipedia page “Soy sauce”.25

17“Tempura,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempura

18Wasabi is the green, highly pungent, paste served as a Japanese condiment for sushi2 and sashimi26, made from the wasabi plant.

19https://pogogi.com/japanese-deep-fry-furai-little-cousin-tempura-and-tonkatsu

20“Daikon,” accessed July 5, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daikon

21“Donburi,” accessed July 5, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donburi

22https://www.grab.com/ph/food/

23“Dashi,” accessed July 5, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashi

24“Mirin,” accessed July 5, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirin

25“Soy sauce,” accessed July 5, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soy_sauce

26Sashimi is a Japanese dish consisting of thinly sliced, fresh, raw fish or meat, often served as the first course in a formal Japanese meal but may also be served as the main course. It is garnished with long thin strands of daikon (white radish) or single leaves of the shiso herb (perilla). It is served with soy sauce as a dipping sauce, along with condiments – wasabi paste (the hot Japanese green paste made from the wasabi rhizome), grated fresh ginger, and ponzu (Japanese dipping sauce made of fish flakes, lime juice, soy sauce and vinegar). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Sashimi”.27

27“Sashimi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sashimi