Friday, July 13, 2012
Nomama } No Comment
Fusion cooking is always tricky because you never know what to expect. Depending on what it is mixed with and who does the bastardizing, the result can swing from magnificent to disastrous. Unfortunately, the culinary stars have not aligned in my favor as far as this type of cuisine is concerned which is why I try to avoid fusion whenever I can.
However, Nomama Artisinal Ramen has received such good reviews lately I decided to ignore my aversion and try it out. There were a few things about it that won brownie points with me instantly. For one, the name "nomama" (which I later learned meant 'that's it!' in Niponggo) sounded like a hip, albeit thug-like, introduction to the food that is served there. Second, they are very active online. They thank you for each good review and respond to queries immediately on Facebook and Twitter. Finally, I admire their spunk for opening in Quezon City rather than the Fort or Makati. I have always held the belief that the true food gems are often tucked away in the trenches and not in places like Glorietta (no offense to those who eat there as it sure is convenient).
The interiors captured the restaurant's personality perfectly. It was raw, cool, straight-forward, open, and sociable. Nomama attempts to hide very little. The open kitchen allows you to watch (or inspect) how your food is prepared. There are no secret recipes as the real stars of the show are the ingredients and the magic they create when they come together. We ARE talking about fusion cooking, aren't we?
The food arrives one-by-one and I try to take away my bias towards traditional Japanese preparation. I munch on the tofu fries and the apple salad waiting for angels to start singing. Nothing. The stuffed squash blossoms almost did the trick but the meager servings barely brought me to the chorus.
Then came our mains. The wagyu ramen (which I thought photographed beautifully) was not, in my mind, anywhere close to "artisinal". Served separate from the broth, the noodles were soggy, salty, and complemented only by expensive beef that was overcooked. The buttermilk-marinated tonkatsu on the other hand tasted, well, weird. At some point I actually doubted we were eating pork. Really.
If there was one saving grace, I would say dessert was it. The flourless chocolate cake with salted miso caramel thankfully delivered on its thick and gooey promise.
Overall, I left disappointed and slightly heart-broken. Disappointed because I came with much expectation, having read those positive articles and all. Heart-broken because the ill-prepared meats at dinner meant those animals just died in vain (and that is as PETA as I go).
Still, I would not discourage people from trying Nomama out. I admire the effort to be different and I think there is a vision there somewhere. And that vision deserves a shot. So to anyone whose interest I may have piqued, go try them out and judge for yourself.
But skip the pork chop, trust me.
NOMAMA ARTISINAL RAMEN
G/F FSS Bldg 2, Scout Tuason cor. Scout Castor St
Quezon City, Philippines