It’s understood that Japanese cuisine can be divided into two categories: washoku, the traditional style, and yoshoku, the Western-influenced dishes. Omurice, or Japanese omelette rice, is one of the most popular yoshoku dishes in Japan, alongside curry rice, korokke (croquettes), and naporitan (spaghetti in a ketchup or tomato sauce). Synonymous with children’s meals in Japan, yoshoku dishes evoke nostalgia for many Japanese adults.
For Mikiko Terasaki – the mastermind behind Ultimo diner Omu, which opened last month – omurice brings back nothing but happy childhood memories. It’s a dish she used to cook for friends and loved ones on special occasions back home.
“I realised omurice was yet to hit its potential in Australia,” Terasaki tells Broadsheet, who took her first steps to opening an omurice shop during the early days of the pandemic. Like many others in the hospitality industry, Terasaki lost her job during the initial shutdown. So she used her newfound time to practise and perfect the omelette.
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In 2021 Terasaki opened a roving market stall, where her omelettes – thin, lightly cooked on the outside and with a soft and runny egg mixture on the inside – started to gain popularity.
It didn’t take long before influencers and Tiktokers started posting videos of the soft runny egg oozing over their rice, capturing the moment the knife slices through the top. Soon there were lines of people waiting up to three hours for one of Terasaki’s omelettes. That’s when she decided to make her market stall a permanent venture.
Currently, Terasaki does all the omurice cooking singlehandedly. “I will have to close the shop if I break my arm”, she says, laughing. She tells us her staff are well on the way to mastering the technique too.
Omu’s signature dish is the omurice with thick demi-glaze sauce, but you can also order it with tomato sauce or bolognaise – or, for a fancier variation, mentaiko (pollock roe) cream or spinach and mushroom cream. Other yoshoku styles at Omu include curry rice with various toppings, naporitan, and rice gratin, as well as izakaya-style snacks such as karaage, renkon chips and seaweed potato fry.
The melon soda – a carbonated neon-green drink with ice-cream – is another yoshoku classic served at Omu. “Some [people] just come for the soda,” says Terasaki. The nostalgic cream sodas are also available in blue Hawaii, yuzu and strawberry flavours, all in vibrant colours. And there’s a range of wine, beer and sake (served in masu, a wooden box). Desserts include mont blanc and classic coffee jelly.
You’ll find Omu on the ground floor of an apartment complex in Ultimo, behind the UTS, only five minutes’ walk from Broadway Shopping Centre. You won’t miss its bright-yellow interior and the yellow aprons worn by the staff, the majority of whom are Japanese and will greet you with a friendly “Irasshaimase!” (welcome) as you enter the store.
“I wanted this space to [feel] like Japan,” says Terasaki. “Especially for those who haven’t been able to go home or visit the country for the last two years.”
Tue to Thu 4–9pm
Sat 11.30am–3pm & 4–10pm
Sun 11.30am–3pm & 4–9pm