76. 12-20 Om Restaurant 92 Winthrop Street. Summary: Outstanding meal - food, atmosphere, location, service. Pricey, but worth it. Challenging the very best restaurants of Harvard Square.
I was really impressed with Om. To be honest, I had this place figured for a hip bar crowd, and assumed the food would be more in line with Grafton St. and Z Square, where atmoshpere overwhelms quality. But I was proved wrong - the atmosphere is unique - trendy, hip, appealing - and the food is excellent to boot.
Walk in the door, and you immediately face a sheet of undulating, rippling water running down a dark wall of ribbed stone of some kind. Turn to face a very hip bar/lounge area, quite dark, with a large wall of thin layers of stone ("some kind of 'water stone,' I'm told," said the maitre d') behind the bar. Then upstairs to the dining room, which is pleasant, well lit, and decorated with various paintings and sculptures, all of a Tibetan theme.
I went with my friend Brad, who had heard good things about the restaurant, as I had from my wife. Our server was a bit goofy but efficient and he had specific recommendations from the menu that were excellent.
We started by sharing a dozen "Signature MoMo's" - stupid name, but very tasty small steamed dumplings - we had six veggie and six pork. Three sauces came for the dumplings, arranged in their own dishes for us to dip into. The soy sauce was fine but boring, the mango sauce good for the veggie dumplings but too weak for the pork, and the melted red pepper sauce good for both.
I had an an entre the Om sandwich, which is broiled unagi (eel) with plum and sprouts on a biscuit, alongside a clump of daikon salad with chili sauce dressing - quite spicy. As the server suggested, I combined the two to match the sweetness of the sandwich with the spiciness of the daikon - it worked and was excellent. My only complaint is that there was a brush stroke of sauce in the middle of the plate, but whatever it was had hardened like paint. The server chuckled and remarked that it was actually supposed to be edible. Nonetheless the dish was excellent.
Brad had the Chinese Pork sandwich with sweek potato fries - "best sandwich ever," he said.
So, we both left happy and $30 poorer, but richer for the experience. Om is a very cool addition to the Harvard Square restaurant scene and I hope it does well, because its inventiveness and high quality should raise the level of competition throughout the neighborhood.