(Editor’s Note: This article focuses primarily on the new dishes added to Menu 3.0 of Omote Singapore. For a review of washoku concept Omote Dining by Nagae as well as information about and pictures of the dishes previously from Menu 2.0 and which continue to feature in Menu 3.0, you can access the original review here.)
Omote Singapore launched their new menu on 13 March 2020. In contrast to Menu 2.0 which was the first major overhaul of their menu since their move to their current premises in December 2018, Menu 3.0 is a more concise and confident consolidation of the restaurant’s greatest hits, with the introduction of new dishes across the various sections of the menu.
For the unitiated, Omote certainly has a remarkable origin story. Since their humble beginnings three years ago as an unassuming 12-seater named Sushiro in the food hall of Thomson Plaza (not to be confused with the popular Japanese sushi chain which recently opened outlets in Tiong Bahru and Shaw Centre) and their eventual disruption of the Japanese casual dining scene in Singapore with their friendly-priced bara chirashi bowls (which spawned an entire sub-genre of dining and countless imitators in Singapore), the concept has gone from strength to strength, tripling their seating capacity after their first move to a shopfront closer to the entrance of the mall before eventually moving three floors up to a space again triple their previous size and now trading under their current Omote brand.
The most significant update in Menu 3.0 involve the rice and noodle selections. On the noodle front, new dishes such as “Char” Udon (stir-fried buckwheat noodles, caramelised beef, seasonal greens, dried bonito), Claypot Sukiyaki Udon (caramelised beef, dashi, seasonal greens, poached egg), Ebi Kare Udon (tempura tiger prawn, roasted onions, casserole greens, honey curry stock) and “Roasted Garlic-Dry” Maze Udon (seared fatty beef, friend onion, spicy sauce reduction, poached egg) are introduced. My favourite new noodle dish is the Prawn Ramen (prawn broth, pork sauce, roasted onions, cherry shrimp) which draws its inspiration from the humble Singaporean prawn noodle soup. The broth is a thick, show-stoppingly robust and umami tour de force of flavour which you will still sense on your tongue and yearn for long after it has departed down your esophagus.
Many Japanese-style rice dishes with innovative twists make their debut (or return) in Menu 3.0. The Spicy Yakiniku Don (fine layered beef cuts, thinned onions, peppercorn spices, oriental chillis) sees soy and chilli padi take the stringily chewy and milky beef creation to naughty places, while the Kurobuta Shogayaki Don (Japanese black pork, threaded leek root, ginger and olive infusions) plays it all sweet bacon meets barbecued meat jerky. A chewy XO sauce lends a dash of slick danger to the peppery, egg-tastic and scrumptious Kani Yakimeshi (crispy crab, spicy dried scallop, roasted garlic fried rice).
Those hoping for more exciting fusion chirashi fun in Menu 3.0 may be disappointed to know that some bowls such as Mentai Chirashi Don and Spicy Triple Chirashi Don from Menu 2.0 have been axed, with the new additions being decidedly low-key upgrades to existing concepts in the menu rather than radical new creations. The Umami Soy Chirashi is a more nuanced, refined and wet take on the classic Omoté marinated bara chirashi, while the Spicy Dashi Chirashi takes the seductively tingling heat from the spicy third of Sanshoku Chirashi and makes it the lead of its own pilot series.
Menu 3.0 introduces a new soup section, with choices such as Roasted Salmon Belly Sanpeijiru (dried kelp, assorted vegetables, clear fish soup) and Kimuchi Niku Shiru (beef off cuts, pickled vegetables, kimchi soup). Various new appetisers and starters feature in the menu as well. The seemingly basic Crispy Garlic Corn (husked corn, potato flour, aosa nori) is a seaweed-driven, salt-tinged revelation, the Spicy River Squid (dried kelp, pestled lemongrass, chilli infusion) offers chewy dried squid drama, and the miso-centric Koji Saba (young ginger, sweet wine, cherry shrimp) delivers boneless and smoky mackerel pleasure.
While the latest menu update may not be quite as balls-in-the-hand and take-no-prisoners as the earth-shattering launch of Menu 2.0, the new dishes are decidedly more sophisticated in concept, with a notable emphasis on returning to classic Japanese ideas while breathing new life to them in a respectful manner. Menu 3.0 suggests a more mature direction in terms of how the menu may develop in the future, and my body is already gearing for Menu 4.0.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Menu 3.0 sees playful spins on classic Japanese flavours.
The must-orders (if any): Crispy Garlic Corn, Prawn Ramen, Spicy Dashi Chirashi, Spicy Yakiniku Don, Umami Soy Chirashi, Kani Yakimeshi.
301 Upper Thomson Rd #03-24A