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Omakase: The Better Way To Eat Sushi

A sushi chef making omakase-style sushi.
Adam J Chan/Shutterstock

Well established westernized sushi, like the iconic California Roll, have become standard fare. But beyond the fake-crab and seaweed spirals, sits a wide world of ocean-focused delicacies waiting to be explored. And there’s no need to traverse the foreign waters on your own; a sushi chef makes the perfect guide.

What Is Omakase?

The term omakase means “I’ll leave it up to you.” To order your sushi omakase, then, is to allow the chef to choose your plates. And it’s this simple act of trust that can create an incredible dining experience.

In Japan, many sushi restaurants don’t have menus. It’s common and considered an act of sushi sophistication to allow the chef to choose your dinner for you. They choose based on seasonality, quality, and availability of ingredients, all of which are especially important in the world of raw fish. And, the chef often decides mid-course what to make next based on your reaction to their previous pick. That means every meal is personalized, and no two meals are ever the same.

The Pros and Cons of Omakase

Many find ordering omakase to be intimidating. It’s typically only done in smaller restaurants and sushi counters, as it requires the chef to be incredibly focused on each guest. The intense interest, though, can make some guests feel uncomfortable should they find they don’t like something the chef has served.

Perhaps the most significant barrier to ordering omakase is the price. Since the chef decides what to serve as they go, the guest loses some control over the final bill. Some restaurants set price points for omakase experiences, but many leave it open-ended, which can mean a hefty tab at the end of the night.

Of course, allowing a chef to choose your meal for you can also have huge benefits. A knowledgeable sushi chef can lead you to try new ingredients, things that you might never have thought to order yourself. And, they can guide you towards new and exciting preparations of those ingredients you already love.

Ordering sushi omakase-style is considered to be a must-do in the world of dining. And, it’s almost sure to push you out of your California-roll-comfort-zone. So, if you’re looking for a way to broaden your palette while experiencing the best of the best, order your sushi omakase. You won’t be disappointed.

Lauren Sakiyama Lauren Sakiyama
Lauren Sakiyama is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry. She has managed restaurants, country clubs, and large-scale event operations, but her passion has always been about the food. Read Full Bio »
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