I’ve had better ramen in Manila. Ukkokei, Moshi Koshi, heck, even Ramen Bar.
That being said, I would still go back to Nomama. Let me explain.
Since Nomama opened with it’s tasting menu last year, I’ve been hearing/reading mixed reviews about their food. With comments ranging from “You should really try it!” and “One of the better food spots in the area!” to “Tawid ka nalang ng kalye, mag Max’s ka nalang.” and “Nomama? File under No!“, the place was pretty hard to ignore.
So last Sunday, when traffic was light, I finally decided to try the place out for myself.
Let me start off by saying…
OK, now that that’s out of the way, here’s what we ate:
Not your usual gyoza. According to the menu, this one is made with shiitake, oyster, button, and shimeji mushrooms. It also wasn’t served with the usual gyoza dipping sauce since, according to the waiter, “the sauce is inside.” Although I still prefer the traditional pork/cabbage gyoza, this one was delicious! Points to Nomama for their imagination and innovation.
The Fat Butuanon inside me was happy because I prefer my kilawin with gata. While I didn’t really taste the “ala Japonaise” part, I was quite happy with this dish.
Is it just me or more and more places are serving soft shell crab these days? I’m not complaining, I love soft shell crab when done right. This one was, by the way. The buttermilk dressing didn’t disappoint either but I guess I’m just used to having soft shell crab with Ponzu sauce.
*Note to self: Next visit, ask the waiter if they could use the ponzu salad dressing instead. They have it naman for the Raw Salad. Worth a try.
**Note from self: Great idea, self!
***Note to self: I know, right?!?
Here’s where the meal started to go “eh!”
Have you tried Yabu House of Katsu yet? You have? Good. This was nothing like it.
The pork was kinda dry and the flavor was, well, how do I put it? Parang timplang-bahay. You know pork chop in some houses where they marinate it in calamansi and toyo before they fry it to smithereens? Ganun. Ganung-ganun. Sorry, that was the best way I could describe it. I’m not saying it didn’t taste good, mind you, I was just expecting more given how the meal started.
I haven’t heard a good review about their signature Nomama Ramen. So it was a toss up between Thai Green Curry Ramen and Ox Tongue and Chili Tofu Ramen. Since I wasn’t in the mood for something probably laksa-ish, I decided to go with the one with the tongue.
The ox tongue and noodles were cooked nicely and the chili wasn’t overwhelming. In fact, it could have been spicier. My issue with this dish is the broth. The deep, rich flavor that you would expect from ramen broth just wasn’t there. For me, it just wasn’t malinamnam enough. (Ang luma ng choice of words!)
In fact, we overheard the girl from the table right beside us say “Parang bouillon lang ginamit…” Honest.
The perfect ending to this meal, I think. Not because it was excellent but because I liked it and didn’t like it at the same time. The light brown peanut butter side is light and mousse-y while the dark brown chocolate side was dense and crunchy, thanks to the puffed rice incorporated into the cake. I loved the chocolate side of the cake and feel that it could stand on its own as a dessert. The peanut butter side, however, even if it tasted nice, had the texture of refrigerator/no-bake cheesecake. You know, like the ones they serve in hotel dessert buffets. I’m not sure if they make it the same way but that’s what it felt like.
I guess that’s where all the mixed reviews (this post included) come from. Nomama has quite a number of dishes that I would brave the QC-Timog traffic for but there are also some misses. Most notably the ramen. Not so much of a big deal if this was some random Japanese restaurant, but it’s not.
Nomama is an “artisanal ramen shop.” It says so in the logo. So it would be reasonable to expect that this place would serve above par ramen, right?
No matter. I think Nomama deserves another visit. I heard that the Twice Cooked Pork Belly Teriyaki is really good.