Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Osaka Ohsho: Best Gyoza Place Opens in Megamall

Although I had my weekend and then some recovering from a bout of severe hyperacidity, this didn't stop me from heading over to Megamall to check out the newly opened gyoza place, Osaka Ohsho. The popular concept from Japan was brought to the sunny shores of Man-illa by the same group that brought us Wee Nam Kee, and since I was a huge fan of the Singaporean concept, I had the same expectations for this restaurant being pretty awesome, too.

Known as the #1 gyoza place in Japan, their secret-but-not-quite to success is the proprietary blend of Japanese flour they use to make the gyoza skin, keeping it thin but sturdy. That, and the obvious fact of using only the freshest ingredients to make the gyoza stuffing, ensuring the best quality Japanese dumplings.

You can find Osaka Ohsho at the third floor of Megamall's new Fashion Hall - where the soon-to-open H&M is. The place was packed when my friends and I got there, which was surprising considering it was a Tuesday night. Grabe lang the power of Kris TV!

We tried most of the ala carte items that night, but just so you know most of them also come in sets with rice, miso soup, gyoza, and fruits.

I was easing my way into the dishes, careful not to irritate my sensitive stomach, and started dinner with a bowl of Mabo Tofu (P270). The serving was pretty big - good for at least four people - and it wasn't as spicy as I expected it to be. In fact, it wasn't spicy at all, which was slightly disappointing.

I've been temporarily banned from dairy, but this did very little to stop me from trying just a little bit of Osaka Ohsho's Special Fuwatoro Tenshin Han (P310). The super fluffy egg omelette was topped with a miso sauce and covering a small mound of Koshihikari rice - the crown jewel of Japanese rice, noted for its sweet, nutty taste and slight stickiness. This was simple yet delicious and is apparently a huge hit in Japan, with fuwatoro stalls selling this with all kinds of toppings - their version of pares, I'd like to think.

Most of my friends had ordered mugs of Matcha Milk Smoothies (P125), and on any other day I probably would've enjoyed one for myself, but I was afraid it might rile my hyperacidity back up and opted for a glass of hot water with a lemon slice instead. Aw, boo.

Moving onto Osaka Ohsho's specialty, the gyozas they serve come in three different flavors: Gyoza Original (P175 - 6 pieces; P350 - 12 pieces), Cheese Flavor (P190 - 6 pieces; P380 - 12 pieces), and Nori Flavor (P190 - 6 pieces; P380 - 12 pieces).

The original gyoza has a simple subtle-yet-tasty pork filling, the cheese in the cheese-flavored gyoza was light and creamy, and not as cloying as I thought it would be, and the Nori Flavor had a hint of saltiness to it that I liked. The Osaka Ohsho gyoza is best enjoyed when dipped in any of their three sauces: Osaka Ohsho Original, Miso, and Chili Oil. You can mix them all together in different parts to come up with your favorite combination.

I was looking for a dish that might sooth my achy tummy, and the Sliced Pork with Ginger Sauce (P270) looked like a yummy good idea. And it was! The dish may look quite pale at first glance, but the ginger flavor is nicely marinated in with the thin bacon slices, making even the fat that practically melts in your mouth taste like some sort of meaty ginger orgasm. In your mouth.

We also had a plate of Beef with Eggplant in Special Hokkaido Sauce (P330) that was very, very nice. The beef was flavored well with the Hokkaido sauce, and the vegetables gave a nice play of texture in the mouth, alternating between the soft eggplant to the crunchy onions and bell peppers.

A sucker for chicken, the Japanese Style Crispy Chicken Karaage with Grated Radish (P330) was right up my alley. This also had a nice suble ginger aftertaste to it, with the grated radish and ponzu sauce giving it a light sweetness.

I was banned by everyone for trying the Black Vinegar Chicken (P325), as it's made with vinegar that would help the acid that's already acting up to burn a hole in my stomach quicker. Boo! At the same time, they were also gushing about how good the dish tasted. I swear, having thoughtful, caring friends can really suck sometimes. Haha!

Pairing mostly everything with Black Chahan (P250) brought everything together really nicely. The rice was nutty, a touch sweet, and sticky. As you know, I'm not a big fan of rice, but this I could definitely appreciate.

A favorite of mine that night was the Ebi Chili (P375) - prawns covered in batter and deep-fried until puffy, before being tossed in a light chili sauce and served with diamonds of crispy crackling. I appreciate how the sauces are just enough for you to taste the spice without overpowering the flavor of the fresh prawns.

I saw the Salmon Teriyaki (P395) on the menu and just had to have it in my mouth! The gorgeous salmon fillet was perfectly executed, leaving it firm yet flaky, the teriyaki sauce lending the dish its sweetness. Now we're talking!

Somebody ordered a gorgeous looking Pork Cutlet in Miso Sauce (P290). The katsu was nice and soft and the miso sauce being sweet but not overpowering. Again, there was a nice balance of flavors here, and if I wasn't so stuffed I would probably have gone back for seconds.

I was as giddy as a school girl to discover that a lot of the desserts at Osaka Ohsho has matcha ice cream, like their Japanese Parfait with Homemade Ice Cream (P280). A base of cornflakes is then topped with green tea, fresh mango balls, a black sesame paste, matcha ice cream, and finally topped with whipped cream. I tried not to eat too much of this, really I did, but after they set it down in front of me it was all a blur and the next thing I know is it was gone!

There were a lot of us that evening, so aside from the parfait we also had a few bowls of Banana Tempura with Homemade Japanese Ice Cream (P330) as well. The banana fritters were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and everybody decimated the green tea and sesame ice cream, leaving poor old vanilla melting by its lonesome.

I was pleasantly surprised that the #1 gyoza place had some other really good dishes other than what they're popular for. I took a peek in the kitchen to see how the chef puts together a piece of gyoza, and watcched as she went to town on it, quickly stuffing and pinching the dumpling. Only chefs who have undergone extensive training under their Japanese master chefs are allowed to handle the gyoza. They are trained to ensure consistency in their work by using only the right amount of meat, held together by the supple skin, creating uniform and beautifully shaped gyoza each time.

When mucking around Megamall, venture into the new fashion wing of the mall and check out Osaka Ohsho for your fill of their impeccable gyoza as well as some of their other offerings. I am definitely going back for the Ebi Chili and Salmon Teriyaki, and maybe when my stomach is feeling better I can finally try their Black Vinegar Chicken, too.

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Osaka Ohsho
+63 2 631 7074
+63 917 828 5011
3/F Fashion Mall, SM Megamall Bldg. D
Open Daily: 10am - 9pm