OM Thai Cuisine
710 Ventura Ave.
I was 8 years old when my parents brazenly decided to jet-set us over to Thailand. From the famed “floating market” to the snake charmers who ever-so-slightly eluded cobra strikes, it was an adventurous and integral part of my childhood. The only hint of regret looking back is not being more immersive with the cuisine, as it would become one of my staple cravings. So when I saw that the OM Thai Cuisine (formerly OM Thai Fusion) in Oak View had changed ownership I was intrigued. Though it took me a while to navigate my way there, it was a nostalgic experience I very much needed. Kind of like tom kha for the soul, if you will.
Whereas the previous incarnation OM Fusion suffered from a slight case of menu identity crisis, OM Thai Cuisine, owned by Vincent and Laddawan Weyant, is an authentically focused tour de force. The ambience has changed quite a bit as well, including a color-scheme shift and a dining room facelift. But the walls are still bedazzled with sequin-heavy tapestry art representative of the wonderfully warm and colorful Thai culture. And my server, Laura, was a shining example of this welcoming nature as she smiled and dropped off a cup of vegetable broth soup. Though it was simple and flavorful, I had a different soup on my mind.
The aforementioned tom kha soup, a coconut milk-based broth with accents of lemongrass, kaffir lime and galangal, was a playful trio of sweet, spicy and tart. I wanted to go with the vegetable option, but my usual choice — chicken — looked divine on my neighbor’s table. Thankfully I didn’t have to choose as Laura offered the option of both. The rich bowl of bliss boasted spectral flavors, tastefully tumbling over each other for their moment in the spotlight. Each did its best to impress.
Another appetizer I sought out for nostalgia’s sake was the crab rangoon. This rich delicacy blends fresh crab and cream cheese and is wrapped origami-style in wonton paper before being flash-fried. These little works of art were my go-to as a kid and still evoke those happy memories tied to my brain’s olfactory response. Science never tasted so good.
For the main course, a vast array of opportunities abounded, and I intended to make the most of my food fortune. The first pick was a dish that I tend to use as a barometer for the quality of a Thai dig, and that is the stir-fried eggplant. I am pleased to report that OM passed with high flying colors. I chose to invite fried tofu to the party, while mushrooms, bamboo shoots and basil provided other vital textures. It was one of the finest representations I’ve come across.
As it was the afternoon hour, I decided to select two entrees from the “lunch special” list, both of which included soup, salad and a crispy egg roll. The pad see ew was anything but what its last syllable would suggest, starring wide pan-fried rice noodles tossed with red bell peppers, carrots, onions, basil and choice of meat. It was a bit on the mild side, but with some assistance from OM’s spicy sauce caddy I got to where I needed to go.
The other authentic item I indulged in was the green curry with a side of fluffy red rice. The velvety coconut-milk dish was literally overflowing with personality, as a vegetable medley of eggplant, zucchini, bamboo shoots, carrots and tofu was piled high above the edge of the bowl. Richly thicker than most curries, the dish presented a sweet introduction, which then gave way to a bite of spice. It was a well-balanced combination of the flavor characteristic of a true curry.
The addition of OM Thai Cuisine to the Ojai Valley is a most welcome one, and judging by the numbert of lunchtime patrons who flocked to the establishment for take-out orders, I’m not the only one expressing this sentiment.