Omaw is a rustic snack bar with a lean sharing menu of new American plates.
Whereas before the food was more focused on Southern cuisine, it’s now a little more casual with the American flavours occasionally leaning over a little into the Asian category, though toasts and Kentucky fried squid are still on the menu.
Toast ($12) piles Blackbird sourdough with a rich and creamy yet sweet and zesty combination of caramelized ricotta, fermented chili and mushroom.
Rutabaga ($13) is long ribbons of vegetable dressed with bitter coffee granola, tart basil yogurt and sunflower, very sharp and nutty with lots of dry chewy textures.
Crudo ($16) brings it back to basics but in an unexpected way, thinly sliced neon pink Ocean Wise BC steelhead trout and marinated chayote swimming in refreshing cucumber buttermilk and topped with crunchy poppy seeds and a fennel oil.
A chopped salad ($15) uses kale provided exclusively by Food Dudes partner Modular Farms.
The house fermented chili from the toast is in some pimento cheese I wish there was more of, and toppings of almond, toasted buckwheat, watercress, grape and cucumber seem a bit scattered, but the salad is nicely crunchy overall, set off by some crispy fried potato.
A beef dish ($24), like much of the menu, changes often, but for us it was dry aged culotte with rice cooked in the style of grits or congee with a ginger scallion mixture on top and in an oil around the rice.
The whole dish is sumptuous thanks to fatty beef tallow, the meat is cooked perfectly and the rice has a dreamy texture.
All classic cocktails are $12, and a rye-based Old Pal is set off by Campari and dry vermouth for a boozy and sophisticated but still approachable drink.
A Rose Pisco Sour is your typical sweet and sour mix of pisco and lemon topped off with frothy egg white, but this one adds a distinct floral note to the flavour profile with crushed dried rose petals.
Between the main dining area and a back event space there’s a private room where a chef’s table of twelve may be served special menus by a dedicated server.
The space also boasts a showy open kitchen area central to the bar that adds an extra lively note of clatter to the whole atmosphere. Here is where our beef was cooked on a tiny grill using Japanese binchotan charcoal.