For those who can’t get enough of Gado Gado, owners Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly are at it again with Oma’s Takeaway, a restaurant scheduled to open in August serving up Chinese, Southeast Asian, and Americana-inspired barbecue combo plates.
Oma’s Takeaway began as a to-go project serving self-described “stoner food,” launched out of the Gado Gado kitchen early during the coronavirus lockdown. It’s been about a month since Gado Gado reopened for patio service with its regular takeout menu, but the Pisha-Dufflys wanted to continue with the concept of Oma’s Takeaway. It’s named after Thomas’s Indonesia-born grandmother, whom he called Oma (the Dutch word for grandmother), and who recently passed away from complications of COVID-19. Oma’s Takeaway also represented the spirit of creativity and experimentation with new things during a trying time.
“It really breathed new life into the restaurant at a time when we really needed that inspiration and excitement,” Mariah says.
Now, Oma’s Takeaway is getting a permanent location, opening on a to-be-announced date in August at the former Whiskey Soda Lounge (3131 SE Division St), where the Pisha-Dufflys will offer patio service in addition to the original takeaway model. Someday, they’ll offer indoor dining, too. The restaurant will serve dinner four days a week to begin with, followed by lunch service.
What sets Oma’s Takeaway apart from Gado Gado is its playful, creative barbecue platters. The plates are inspired by nasi lemak, the Malaysian national dish that, in its most straightforward form, consists of coconut rice with sambal, peanuts, fried anchovies, cucumbers and a hard-boiled or fried egg. At Oma’s Takeaway, the barbecue platters combine your choice of meat and a few sides with coconut-clove rice, greens, shrimp chips, pickles, and a fried egg. Proteins on offer might include beef rendang (a rich coconut milk stew), shrimp curry, or fried chicken legs. Veggie options will also be available, with dishes like jackfruit curry. Oma’s Takeaway will also specialize in house-smoked Singaporean Chinese-style barbecue, one of Thomas’s favorite comfort foods, with options like char siu and roast duck. On the side, look for veggies like pea tips, creamed greens, corn fritters, papaya salad, and smashed cucumbers, plus nostalgia-fueled Americana-inspired dishes like Hawaiian macaroni salad and cultural mashups like five-spice tater tots. The menu will also retain some of the stoner-inspired meals on the menu from Oma’s Takeaway’s previous incarnation—think dishes like smoked brisket on a bun toasted with coconut herb butter, served with green strawberry slaw and cheesy five-spice tots.
The pandemic might be an unconventional time to open a restaurant, especially one that hadn’t even been planned prior to the shutdown. But for the Pisha-Dufflys, there couldn’t be a better time to start something new.
“It’s just so fun to cook with that amount of freedom,” Thomas says. “Because of all that uncertainty, we would rather as a business, and really as a group of creative minds—we’d rather take our future and our creative destiny into our own hands.”