Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Tucson restaurant news: OM Sweet OM

Unagi Nigiri Sushi - Suzuran - flash
Image by avlxyz via Flickr

Update: As of August 2010, I have returned to OM three different times for happy hour, lunch and dinner and the food and service has always been good to very good which is why I keep going back. New restaurants have to work out the kinks and refine their service or so that is my humble opinion.

————–previously written Jan 2010

Today I took BK out to lunch for her birthday. I wanted to try somewhere new so I suggested OM which is in the former Neo of Melaka on the NW corner of River/Campbell.

I had called OM on three different occasions to find out when they were opening and what they were serving. On three different occasions I was told three different descriptions — “Euro-Asian”, “Modern Asian Diner”, and “Contemporary Asian” plus sushi. I was informed that Contemporary Asian uses French techniques with Asian flavors.

When I called on Saturday, they said they were open today for lunch from 11 a.m.

I met BK there at 1 p.m. The hostess informed me they were serving sushi only for lunch (that never came up during our phone conversation). Since I was a few minutes early, I sat down on a plush black leather chair in the small waiting area to peruse the dinner menu for another time.

When BK arrived we decided to stay for lunch because we already found parking. We were seated and stylish water glasses delivered to our table.

First a word about the décor – beautiful. It looks entirely different than when it was Neo of Melaka which used more warm tones. The décor  almost reminded me of Café Poca Cosa which now reminds me of L.A. Here, the surfaces were hard and slick in black and muted green, ice, and neutral. Esthetically, it’s shiny and hip but will be noisy.

We exchanged initial greeting pleasantries, mulled over the sushi menu, commented on the décor, and chatted some more. Only three tables had customers.  Then we noticed there were more servers than people.  We were sitting in a prominent space not tucked into a corner and our heads bobbed longingly and increasingly as platters of sushi went by. At least six servers walked past us, never to look in our direction or acknowledge us. Nobody asked if we wanted anything to drink which is usually the opening line for the server/customer contact. It was plain weird.

Servers wearing muted green shirts were huddled together but no servers gave us eye contact. Out of desperation, I waved to a server. I know he saw me because he nodded his head but then took a step back and out of my view.

BK said, “Let’s go eat elsewhere.” I agreed and we stood up and six servers swooped to our sides with shocked looks on their faces. We left.

I could understand if there were one or two servers and the room was busy but it was entirely the opposite. We ate elsewhere.

But back to OM’s dinner menu, it looks awesome. Here’s an overview: shitake ravioli, pork 2 ways, kumquat lacquered duck breast, Sapporo braised beef short ribs, sesame fries, ginger rice, seared tuna salad, crispy shrimp skewers & mango aioli. Starters and salads range from $6 to $12, entrees $13 to $18, sides $5, and desserts $6. Yuzu panna cotta and mango bread pudding all sound intriguing.

I cannot remember if there was a full bar although the beer and wine list seems diverse and reasonably priced for a restaurant of this caliber.

I hope to eat dinner at OM soon and expect good service. Hopefully, that’s not too much to ask.

OM is located at 1765 East River Road (Joesler Village), 299-7815.

  1. Unacceptable. The food might be great but with service like that they won’t survive. P.F. Chang’s is almost next door and wildly popular. They had better step it up.

  2. Management, probably. New restaurant, somebody should be policing the staff. Menu sounds good! Tough place to start a business, next to PFChang.

  3. Went to om the last friday. food was yum and ambience was great!!! Looks like Tucson finally has a California kind of restaurant…..

  4. Amrita
    Glad you had a great experience. I look forward to returning.

    I don’t think the word is “finally”. There are plenty of California kind of restaurants but perhaps nothing quite as creatively Pacific Rim-ish.

    Thanks for posting.

  5. Had lunch at Om. Sushi was great! Pricing is fair….
    Will be back for more sushi and look forward to eating from the dinner menu as well. Place is inviting and intimate. Lighting is perfect!!

  6. We went last weekend and had a good time aside from the very few vegetarian selections. They had one vegetarian entree, the Shitake mushroom Ravioli dish. It was ok, nothing that great… you get about 5-6 pieces of ravioli in a thin soup like broth. The flavor was a bit bland, not really worth what we paid for.
    Aside from that the decor and ambiance was great, you truly feel like you are not in Tucson. The sushi was ok as well similar to what you can get at any other place and the price was decent.

  7. Beware of this place to work for.

    No one knows what they are doing and the women who own it are not very friendly or helpful.

    So you should go in as a mind reader for sure. I haven’t ever worked for people who are so STUCK UP.

    As for the food I have no idea because when I asked to be informed about the food they ignored me. So please if you visit this place be nice to the servers because they havent been trained very well.

    I just thought that when you go to work for a new place that is opening the owners would want to really inform their employees so they can have a great team working for them. But I guess not.

  8. This place is amazing. The food and service are top notch. There is nothing quite like this in Tucson and the happy hour that they offer is something to check out. The best sushi that I have had in Tucson, hands down.

  9. Went for dinner. They had a pretty good crowd for a Sunday night. Looks like they got their service problems ironed out. Wait staff was prompt and attentive. Food was really good, a 9 . Crabcake appetizer was especially tasty. Entrees were really something different, especially for Tucson. Reasonably priced. We’ll be back.

  10. I went there yesterday for lunch with a friend. We were expecting to lunch at Neo of Melaka (formerly at this site) but after the staff explained it was no longer there, we decided to stay and check out the new restaurant.
    They quickly brought us water and menus. It wasn’t busy, the decor is beautiful, the selection looked yummy. We chose what we wanted to order, and waited for the server to come to take our order. And waited. And waited. A server came several times to check on the lone man sitting at the table next to us. We waited some more. And waited. And waited. And walked out.
    We had a delicious lunch at P.F. Changs.

  11. The sushi prices at happy hour are the cheapest I have ever seen! Full sushi rolls and salads for a few bucks each. It is really good too. The spicy tuna roll, the royal roll and the seaweed salad were so good. I also ordered udon noodles and 5 spice pulled pork sliders and I was impressed! I thought it was a more interesting experience, as far as decor and menu, than PF Changs. I’m sick of cookie cutter chain restaurants. I prefer locally owned places and this is an especially good one. I’ll be back for sushi at happy hour and I can’t wait to try the rest of the menu.

  12. Went down to Om for lunch this afternoon. Food was delicious and ambience was great. Unbeatable prices on sushi and so happy that Yuki (well renowned sushi chef) of Tucson was working for them. Menu lookes great. Can’t wait to try the entree’s. Finally and New York like place in Tucson.

  13. Unlike others who posted here, my friend and I found Om to be an extremely friendly place and spoke with two of the owners extensively. As stated, the atmosphere is great and the food we had exceptional. We did go for lunch but tried something other than sushi since I’m not particuarly a sushi fan. We shared the crabcakes which were crispy on the outside and yummy tender on the inside with an avocado sauce. Each of us decided to try one of their soups–I had the shrimp bisque, creamy and rich–and my guest had the gazpacho soup, cold and zesty. We will enjoy both again. Our waiter was very attentive, friendly and considerate without any waiting for service. We both would highly recommend OM and plan to return for an evening dinner.

  14. Avid sushi fans for years, my husband and I have a new favorite sushi bar. The food was absolutely the best I’ve had in Tucson. The ambience was posh, but quiet, service attentive and friendly. The hostess came over to inquire what had brought us in, and warmly invited us back. The happy hour menu was astoundingly light on the wallet…I actually asked the waiter whether the bill was correct, as $54.00 to stuff 3, with Miso and Edamamae included seemed incorrect. Especially as we had requested the regular menu, as some of our favorites were not on the Happy Hour menu. He informed me that everything we had ordered that WAS on the H.H. menu had been pulled from there, despite our ordering from the regular menu for some items. Much appreciated!! I cannot wait to bring friends here, and get back every chance!!!!

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