Eating the same recommended dish on the menu can be an exhausting thing to do because after all, it’s been eaten by most people who dined to that restaurant and you probably can already taste the flavor of that dish by just reading the reviews or asking the chef or server. If you’re looking for something new, fresh, and original then this will work wonders for you: the art of omakase. So, what is omakase?
Omakase, which is loosely translated into Japanese as “I will leave it to you”, is the fine tradition of letting your chef do the honor of making something uniquely yours. It gives the chef the freedom of creating something out of the box or maybe something close to home with a twist of foreign territories. It also gives an unforgettable dining experience to the guests because not only are they part of something new and exciting but it also gives the creators, which are the chefs, a new thing to discover for themselves and their art of creating scrumptious dishes. After all, every chef is a creative individual who is able to make something simple to grand. The art of omakase also lets these chefs work their creative juices and expand their culinary talents, which is consider an amicable gesture. But of course, the art of omakase doesn’t apply or work everywhere. Large-scale restaurants such as chain restaurants or restaurants with limited ingredients don’t work well with omakase. Because of its delicate nature and easy to find ingredients, most of the omakase restaurants in Tokyo are all about the beauty of sushi. Other restaurants which offer fresh seafood or fresh vegetables are more likely to offer omakase to its guests.
Of course, there are few reminders to remember when dining out and choosing omakase as your choice of meal for the day. First, always sit near the chef. This is to give you a better view of what they are doing. He might ask you about your taste preferences and from there, he will create a dish that’s made especially for you. Also, choosing a seat near the chef gives off an intimate experience which is the heart of omakase.
Second, it’s always plus points if you know how to speak their language. Japanese people are friendly and social interaction is always a good thing. Usually, the chef would strike a conversation or two to his guests and if you’re able to spit out simple Japanese words, then know that you’re in good hands. But of course, it’s important to practice reading the air. Also, if you’re going to take a photo, always ask for their permission first.
Third, if you like things exciting and adventurous, then the omakase experience is for you. After all, these chefs created these dishes straight from their creative juices. It may not work on people who are picky eaters, have food allergies or dietary restrictions. Always keep in mind that in every dish given out to you comes as a surprise and that surprise can either excite you or leave you with a below-par feeling.
Lastly, you have to pay the mysterious price. Considered a request for a magical, delicious meal, omakase usually embody an exceptional value. Don’t be surprised when you receive a non-itemized stub bill with only the price printed on it. Because you have trusted the chef and his culinary talent, it’s only customary to reciprocate this for its value price. Omakase, for other people, can be a gamble. But this gamble usually pays off and you always leave with a smile painted on your lips.
Some of the Best and Affordable Omakase Sushi Restaurants in Tokyo
If you’re adventurous, brave, and want something new to dig in, then the omakase experience is for you. It may appear hard to find restaurants which offer this deal but there are over a hundred restaurants in Tokyo which offer the thrill and excitement of omakase. Some of them may be priced higher than expected but you can always find inexpensive ones and they are all equally delicious and satisfying.
Bentenyama Miyako Sushi (2 Chome-1-16 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo) serves up some of the freshest, traditional Edomae-zushi. This classic sushi dish has been a favorite among loyal patrons and the best thing about it is its reasonable price. If you like to try something traditional that’s insanely delicious and affordable, this is the place for you. They also sell Nigiri sets which you’ll surely love. Reservations are not required but if you want to secure a spot, it’s highly recommended.
A bit bigger than your usual sushi-ya, Seamon (5-5-13 Ginza, Sakaguchi Bldg. 6F, Chuo 104-0061) seats 20 people inside and reservations are highly recommended. They serve superb sushi and their sushi lunch set, which consists of 9 sushi, a soup, a dessert, and 3 otsusami, is basically a value for money. The restaurant has a relaxed vibe and you can easily mingle with other people or have a quick chat with the chef.
Yoshino Sushi Honten (3 8-11 Nihonbashi, Chuo 103-0027) is another affordable sushi-ya which serves great tasting and authentic sushi. Their nigiri sushi set, which consists of 8 pieces of sushi and 1 hosomaki, is a classic favorite among patrons. Though the restaurant has a working-class vibe around it, it’s still a perfect place for families and friends. Be sure to book early because the restaurant gets extremely crowded during lunch and dinner.
Sushidokoro Yamada (7-2-14 Ginza Chuo Tokyo) may have the best cost performance when it comes to sushi omakase. With an intimate seating capacity of 8, it’s always booked every night but the good thing is that you can make early reservations. They offer only one menu and it’s the 15 pieces of sushi omakase. Their sushi is tagged as rich and soft and its loyal patrons say that every sushi piece is beyond perfection.
Kizushi (2 Chome-7-13 Nihonbashiningyocho, Chūō, Tokyo) is an old-school restaurant which serves mouthwatering sushi dishes prepared Edomae style. They are most proud of their shari (rice) which a lot of guests find superb and delicious, with just a hint of saltiness, sourness, and sweetness to it. Their nigiri sushi set which has 10 pieces of sushi is one of the things people go back to because of its reasonable price that doesn’t scrimp on flavor and quality. If you like it simple but classy, this is the perfect restaurant for you.
So the next time you’re around Tokyo and want to have something uniquely satisfying and adventurous, go for the omakase experience and it will leave you wanting for more.
Serkan is the founder of Tokyo by Food. He came to Japan to study and he could not go back because of the delicious Japanese cuisine. His passion for Japanese food and Tokyo led him to create this sweet platform. His aim in his life to helping people in need through his business. Therefore, he created Food for Happiness Project.