clock menu more-arrow no yes
Chef Thomas Pisha-Duffly checks on a case of barbecued meats at Oma’s Hideaway on Thursday, May 20, 2021.
Thomas Pisha-Duffly pulls meat out of the case at Oma’s Hideaway during a friends and family dinner. A good portion of the menu at Oma’s relies on charcoal-roasted meats, sometimes lacquered in fish sauce caramel.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX

Filed under:

At Oma’s Hideaway, Chinese Barbecue Pops Against a Backdrop of Black Light Posters

The newest iteration of Oma’s Takeaway opens May 22

When Oma’s Takeaway emerged as a takeout tent outside pseudo-Indonesian spot Gado Gado, it felt like a tiny, contained party: A disco ball turned over packed orders of Flamin’ Hot chicharrones and popcorn shrimp in sweet chili mayo, where music would blare and plants sat perched on tables in the parking lot. For those who know Mariah and Thomas Pisha-Duffly, the owners of Gado Gado, it felt very true to them: At a 2019 Feast after-party, the two set up fire pits in the front parking lot and served meats roasted on a spit — it felt like something between the best backyard barbecue and a hip pop-up, with a psychedelic, effortlessly cool energy.

So stepping into Oma’s Hideaway, the newest iteration of the couple’s second restaurant, feels very true to that same spirit: The restaurant sports two separate bars tiled with rhinestones, iridescent shelves, shiny gold-embossed table coverings. Black-light posters, collected by Mariah, hang on the walls, alongside ‘70s-style light fixtures. Rainbow lights are screwed into the restaurant’s chandeliers.

“If there was any timidity with Gado Gado, Oma’s is taking it up even further a few notches, into this very playful, fun, vibrant place,” Mariah Pisha-Duffly says. “I can guarantee that no one has walked into a restaurant that looks like Oma’s looks. Even my family that’s really out there said, ‘Woah, this is crazy.’”

The Malaysian-Chinese restaurant is the second venture from Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly, who also own Gado Gado.
The exterior of Oma’s Hideaway, in the former Whiskey Soda Lounge space. The restaurant originally opened as Oma’s Takeaway, but after a hiatus at the beginning of 2021, the restaurant has reopened with a new concept.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX

Back in April 2020, when Gado Gado was closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pisha-Dufflys launched an “Asian stoner food” pop-up called Oma’s Takeaway. The pop-up became a hit, and when Gado Gado reopened for outdoor dining later that summer, the couple decided to move Oma’s Takeaway into the former Whiskey Soda Lounge space. But Oma’s had changed significantly, becoming something more like a new Americana: Tom Pisha-Duffly worked with sous chef Ian Schoening to pull inspiration from their various backgrounds to create dishes like five-spice tater tots with curry ketchup and Ambrosia salad with matcha whipped cream, served on the restaurant’s back patio.

But in the beginning of 2021, the couple decided to close the restaurant, to re-imagine what the space could be. On May 22, the restaurant reopens as Oma’s Hideaway, with a full new menu, cocktails from Eem’s Eric Nelson, and a ‘70s pop art wonderland aesthetic.

On a red tablecloth, a pile of sweetbreads topped with an egg, a stir-fry of vegetables, a burger, and a cocktail all sit at Oma’s Hideaway
Crispy curry sweetbreads on a pandan waffle sit among other plates at Oma’s Hideaway. The menu pulls inspiration from various cuisines, from China to Malaysia to Indonesia to old-school American diner food.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX
A four-layer tiramisu sits in a pool of dark liquid, covered in a sand-like sesame crumble.
Durian tiramisu at Oma’s. The restaurant’s version of the Italian dessert comes with sesame crumble and chocolate milo powder.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX

The opening menu at Oma’s will include a few new dishes and a few of the greatest hits from chef Thomas Pisha-Duffly’s roster: Oma’s corn fritters and the Oma-zing burger with fried shallots remain on the menu from the Oma’s Takeaway days, and the chef will be making his own noodles once again. But the couple’s initial plan — to lean into night market, Chinese barbecue culinary styles — remains in place. The restaurant has a glitzy corner dedicated to lacquered meats: charcoal roasted belly and shoulder arrives with lettuce and herbs for wrapping, chicharrones, pickles, dark soy gula jawa, sambal terasi, and the shop’s quintessential aromatic rice; pork spare ribs come in a fish sauce caramel, with sour tamarind and tomato sambal. The restaurant will charcoal-roast game hens, stuff sausages with foie and Chinese duck, and stack fried soft-shell crabs on a sandwich with salted egg yolk mayo and green papaya slaw.

For dessert, customers can choose between things like durian tiramisu and fruity pebble treats. It’s hard to categorize; then again, so is Thomas Pisha-Duffly. “Tom’s menus can be really hard to pin down, hard to explain conceptually because they’re so specific to him. They’re very true to him and his family, the way he explores his identity through food,” Mariah says. “If you know Tom, this is totally him. The first time Tom’s sister ate at Gado Gado, she said ‘This is great — it’s not authentic to Indonesian food, but it’s very authentic to our family.’”

Throughout his time as a chef — from his years cooking in New England to his time designing Oma’s menu — Thomas Pisha-Duffly has incorporated techniques and recipes from the cooking of his Indonesian-Chinese grandmother, Kiong Tien Vandenberg. She died of COVID-19 in 2020 and is the oma that inspired the name of the restaurant.

An orange slushie, garnished with a lime, sits on a red table at Oma’s Hideaway. The Moonage Daydream Slushie is made with tequila, pineapple, and mint.
The Moonage Daydream slushie, made with tequila, pineapple, and mint. The cocktail menu was a collaboration between Mariah Pisha-Duffly, Eem’s Eric Nelson, and the larger Oma’s bar staff.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX

For the bar menu, the couple will do things a little differently; in the past, Mariah Pisha-Duffly has generally spearheaded the cocktail program at Gado Gado pop-ups and Oma’s. But Eric Nelson, the co-owner of Thai barbecue bar Eem and bar maven behind the pop-up Shipwreck, asked to tackle some of the cocktails at Oma’s. “Every time we partner, we have such a good time, and we thought it’d be really rad to connect Eem and Gado Gado somehow,” Nelson says. “[We made] just a bunch of really easy patio pounders, no Old Fashioneds, Manhattans. They wanted to have fun, playful drinks.”

Those drinks feel true to Nelson’s style, which often takes a foundation of a classic cocktail and adds something perplexingly delicious. Take, for example, the One Thing Led to Another, a margarita the puckering sweet bite of Thomas Pisha-Duffly’s turmeric bread-and-butter pickle juice, or the Bellwether, which lands somewhere between a Penicillin and a creamsicle. The bar’s daiquiri gets a hit of absinthe and fresh muddled mint and basil, and the gin and tonic also gets some vermouth and oregano.

When the restaurant opens, customers will be able to dine inside at one of four tables or take one of the patio’s new covered dining pods, replacing the original tent on Oma’s patio. And, true to its origins, Oma’s will offer delivery and takeout, for those who feel unready to dine onsite. Oma’s opens Saturday at 3131 Southeast Division Street; look inside the new space below:

The bar at Oma’s Hideaway has multiple money cats and white walls.
The chef’s counter bar at Oma’s Hideaway is lined with rhinestone tile, with orange midcentury-modern chairs.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX
A bowl is filled with aromatic rice, green-dusted pork rinds, thinly sliced alliums, and caramelized hunks of pork.
The char sui rice bowl with roast pork belly and matcha & nori dusted chicharrones at Oma’s Hideaway. Char siu is just one of the meats Thomas Pisha-Duffly uses from his Chinese barbecue case.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX
A cheeseburger topped with some sort of chili slaw and sitting on top of shredded lettuce sits on a plate next to crinkle-cut fries and a pink tray of mustard and mayo.
The Oma-zing Burger at Oma’s comes with chili jam and a griddled coconut lime leaf butter bun. It was one of the holdouts from the early days of the Oma’s Takeaway pop-up.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX
A person with short red hair and a mask pours a shot into a cocktail shaker at a pink-walled bar.
Bartender Emily Warden mixes up cocktails for friends and family night at Oma’s Hideaway. Many of the restaurant’s cocktails are what Eric Nelson calls “patio pounders”: Easily drinkable, sweet, and fun cocktails.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX
Two people sit at a table covered with food, next to a few plants. Above them, a poster of a naked woman — likely inspired by the film Heavy Metal — hangs on the wall.
Two customers sit under a black light poster from Mariah Pisha-Duffly’s collection. The couple is waiting on a custom wallpaper for the space, as well.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX
Petal light fixtures hang over tables with orange chairs, with several plants posted up throughout the space.
Oma’s Hideaway is filled with small succulents and plants, which absorb the light from the restaurant’s ‘70s-era light fixtures.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX
A man sits across from two other diners at a picnic table, separated by two blue-and-seafoam structures.
Portland game designer Neven Mrgan sits at a table at the Oma’s Hideaway friends and family meal in one of the restaurant’s new dining nooks. “I didn’t want them to feel claustrophobic, and they don’t, they’re really open and light,” Mariah Pisha-Duffly says.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX
Portland Restaurant Openings

Now Open Downtown, the New Poboyz Cajun-Creole Restaurant Wants to Honor Louisiana Legends

One Killed, Two Others Injured in a Shooting at a Northwest Portland Pizzeria and Bar

AM Intel

Portland Named the Best Coffee City in America

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Portland newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world