Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Turning Japanese with a Spin at Nomama Artisanal Ramen Capitol Commons

Japanese cuisine with a cool and inventive spin, and you can definitely expect the unexpected. Blending traditional and authentic Japanese flavors with a bit of creative fun, the dishes at Nomama are not your mama's usual Japanese dishes, not at all. Refreshingly new and different, yet there is a comforting familiarity that keeps you coming back... 

At Nomama Artisanal Ramen, one finds a harmonious and flavorful balance in each of the unique dishes, with just the right amount of play, and that distinct global spin that can only come from Chef Him Uy de Baron (for more on Nomama Artisanal Ramen's creative take on Japanese cuisine, see my previous post here at  http://dude4food.blogspot.com/2013/10/nomama-artisanal-ramen-turns-two.html). Traditional it isn't, nor is it way too off the left field of fusion. But right there in the center, with balanced flavors.

At the very core of Chef Him Uy de Baron's philosophy is simple and uncomplicated flavors using the very best and freshest ingredients. And leave it to Chef Him and his creative, even playful, approach to draw out the best flavors form the best ingredients. 

Chef Him and his staff apply the finishing touches to each plated dish before being served at the new and spacious Capitol Commons location. With two floors, the new location can easily handle the busy lunch and dinner crowd, as more and more discover Capitol Commons.

For starters, Chef Him served up his take on the popular eastern dip, Edamame Hummus with Spiced Pita (P 170), a rich edamame puree and tahini dusted with Japanese 7 Spice served with toasted pita chips. The creamy edamame and sesame seed combination delivers mild yet distinct nutty notes, kicked up by the sharp Japanese 7 spice blend, pairing well with the crisp pita chips. Not Japanese, not completely middle eastern, but definitely Nomama.

Then, Chef Him brings out his new line of unique sliders, starting with the Tori Karaage Sliders, with Japanese style brined chicken topped with slaw on soft brioche. The contrasting textures of the chicken karaage, with its familiar tender and juicy center topped with a crisp outer layer plays well with the fresh coleslaw, adding its own fresh crunch in every bite.

Chef Him then follows this up with his Fresh Crab Sliders, with fresh crab meat, kimchi mayonnaise, baby radish, avocado, and pickled watermelon rind. The tender crab meat, with its distinct sweetness, is perfectly balanced by the flavorful punch from the kimchi mayo, and the radish, avocado and pickled watermelon rind add more texture and round out the flavors.

And finally, Chef Him brings up the Soft Shell Crab, crisp soft shell crab tempura with kimchi mayonnaise, and fresh watermelon salsa, a personal favorite. The delicate flavor of the crisp soft shell crab tempura is enhanced with the flavorful bite of the kimchi mayo and the refreshing watermelon salsa. And this is what you can expect from Chef Him in each of his signature dishes, that perfect balance of flavors from a combination of different ingredients. Each bite reminds you of Chef Him's philosophy, that only the best and freshest ingredients deliver the best flavors.

The mains are served next, starting with the Half-Cooked Tuna Steak with Red Pepper Dashi, Warm Bacon, and Kobacha Salad with Rocket Oil (P 390), perfectly seared on one side, tender and sweet on the other for another unique blend of flavor and texture. The lightly sweet oven roasted pumpkin puree and the rich red pepper dashi is another of Chef Him's playful touches, with a blend of mild flavors building distinct layers to complete the dish.

Chef Him continues with the Almond Crusted Lapu-Lapu with Brown Butter Shiso Vinaigrette and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes (P 470), combining the delicate flavors of the fish with sweet almonds and lightly burnt butter with shiso for rich flavors.

Then, this arrived. Kitayama Wagyu Beef Cheek with Miso on creamy Kobacha puree, oven roasted Japanese pumpkin, with crisp French beans. Fork tender, you don't need need a knife at all. The sweet miso sauce and pumpkin puree add rich flavors to the already rich beef cheeks that almost melt in your mouth. It's the creative infusion of Japanese ingredients, like miso, dashi, and edamame, that give a distinct Asian twist to Chef Him's dishes. And with the best local Wagyu from Kitayama, this dish is a winner. The best local Wagyu in another elegant execution by Chef Him. Another favorite to add to my list at Nomama.    

While at Nomama, complete your experience with one of their signature ramen, like The Nomama Ramen (P 375/ P 245), with the rich house pork stock with special miso-sesame blend topped with tender pork chasu and tamago. The dark broth says it all, and you can imagine the concentrated flavors in each and every sip.

The fiery Tantanmen (P 390/P 260), with its spicy sesame broth topped with organic pork and chili, poached egg, and bok choy. With the heavy rains these past few days, seems like everyday is just perfect for Nomama's hot and spicy Tantanmen. Gently break the yolk to balance the heat and slurp away...

I've always enjoyed Nomama's Wagyu Beef Cheeks Ramen, but when you're looking for something different, this one always hits it home. The Thai Green Curry Ramen (P 355/P 240), a rich and creamy homemade curry paste with coconut broth topped with seared chicken fillet, bok choy, and peas. The familiar and comforting curry with just a whisper of heat is definitely not your usual ramen, but it is comforting and familiar. And it works for me. All the time.

For dessert, cookies and ice cream with Nomama's Warm Smitten Cookie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (P 255), Nutella stuffed cookie with homemade ice cream, hazelnut crumbs, and fresh fruit garnish. A Nutella stuffed cookie...that works for me too.

Take a soft and chewy piece of Nutella cookie and a bit of ice cream...perfect. Add some tartness with a piece of fresh strawberry. And some hazelnut crumbs. And repeat.

And just when you think Chef Him's done playing with distinct Japanese flavors, think again. The Flourless Chocolate Cake with Miso Salted Caramel (P 175), gives the familiar chocolate dessert a cool Nomama twist with the miso infused salted caramel.Rich, moist, and absolutely delicious.

The playful spin, the blend of rich flavors from the best and freshest ingredients, and that unique Nomama touch in every dish. And I can't wait to go back...

Nomama Artisanal Ramen is located at R1 & R1A, Capitol Commons, Meralco Avenue corner Shaw Boulevard, Ortigas Center, Pasig or call 631-8159 for inquiries and reservations.

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  1. so happy to see you again Gerry!!! see you again when we're back in Manila :D - Franny

    1. hey Fran, great to see you and Paul again! Let's get together again when you're back in Manila!


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