Inspired Asian

From presentation to texture to taste, OM succeeds on all levels

There are some truly great things going on over at OM Modern Asian Kitchen. This relatively new eatery comes with some serious cred; it's owned and operated by the folks behind Seri Melaka and Neo of Melaka. This restaurant includes offerings from all over Asia—and there's even a full sushi bar.

The dinner menu is inviting, and we enjoyed a plethora of good food on both of our visits. (The lunch menu is more limited and includes some bento boxes.) The room is all Asian sophistication, with golden brown hues. Burnished Buddhas are tucked in niches along two walls. The bar—backlit and sexy—takes up most of the room. On one side is the liquor bar; on the other side is the sushi bar. A lovely well-shaded patio sits out front.

Both evenings started with a smartly presented amuse-bouche. One night, we had a salmon carpaccio and tiny tempura langoustines. The carpaccio popped, bright with a crunchy slaw. The only problem with the langoustines was that there weren't more of them. On our other visit, the amuse consisted of savory marinated shitake mushrooms, with a sweet melon salad that included cucumber.

Service was pleasant and friendly. However, on one visit, two of the beers we ordered were out of stock. With Asian food, beer is almost a must, and the ones we'd asked for (Sapporo and Pyramid apricot ale, each $4.75) are pretty common. Being out of one, I can understand; two, not so much.

Our appetizers were delightful. We munched on the lamb samosas ($8), crab cakes ($9) and five-spice pork sliders ($10). We also tried the eight-piece omakase sushi plate ($11.60) and a shrimp tempura roll ($8.60). The samosas were some of the best I've ever tasted: Good-sized and packed with luscious lamb and potatoes, all they needed was a swirl through the mint aioli that accompanied them. The crab cakes were more like big croquettes; they were ultra-crunchy on the outside. Inside, the crab was sweet and creamy, with almost no filler. The pork sliders also pleased; tender pork was packed into a buttery bun and topped with tasty slaw. The contrast was amazing.

About the sushi: The omakase (chef's choice) was fine, but the shrimp tempura roll rocked, with so many layers of flavors, and so many textures. Fantastic!

We also sampled the soft and crispy duck salad ($10). The server informed us that this was a potato salad, not a green salad, but we took a chance—and were glad we did. Duck confit and an assortment of potatoes had been tossed with a tangy tamarind dressing. It was sweet, savory and tangy, with a dash of salt—all in one bite! The ring-mold presentation was outstanding.

A side of green-curry noodles ($5) was revelatory. Here, soft noodles were dressed with a wonderfully creamy sauce that held just the perfect bit of heat. However, asparagus was substituted for the eggplant mentioned on the menu; I would've preferred the eggplant, as the asparagus tasted old and was undercooked. This side would make a wonderful light entrée at lunch.

It was obvious that much thought and artistry went into every dish. Consider the XO shrimp and scallops ($18). The dish came with fragrant Mandarin rice laced with bacon, sautéed spinach and roasted mushrooms. The seafood had been plated at the perfect moment; however, there was a tad too much salt to make this dish perfect. The accompaniments were ideal, especially the mushrooms. We were sharing the dish, and the kitchen divided it for us without being asked.

We also sampled the kumquat-lacquered duck breast topped with bits of tempura foie gras ($16), and the pan-roasted butter fish with lump crab meat, curry emulsion and kaffir-scented rice ($19). The duck, pink and juicy, could've been a little crispier, but was nevertheless tasty. It was served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and some garlicky baby bok choy. I'd order it again, but I'd ask for the duck to get a few more minutes under the fire.

Every bite of the butter fish was moist and tender, and delivered a peppery finish at the back of the throat. More crab meat might've kicked it up a notch or two, but otherwise, this was a pleasant dish.

The only things that didn't quite live up to the high expectations were the desserts. The yuzu panna cotta ($6) held only a bit of citrus flavor, and was more like a semifreddo in terms of texture and temperature. The caramelized grapefruit on the side was also bit too much. The seasonal stone fruit napoleon ($6) consisted of ginger-laced mascarpone cream between a couple of thin crispy wafers, plus a spoonful of overly sweet seasonal fruit.