“Omakase” is the Japanese tradition of letting the chef decide your courses for you. The term literally translates to “entrust,” as you entrust the chef with your order. This means that the chef will be pulling out all the stops, presenting you with the highest quality cooking to impress. Used specifically with regard to sushi meals, omakase gives the chef the chance to serve the freshest ingredients they have on hand, particularly in-season ingredients that you may not think to order otherwise.
Giving the chef creative reign over the meal design, omakase is also known to provide a platform for innovation, and you’ll be served interesting dishes and unique food combinations, unlike anything you’d find on a standard sushi menu. Overall, ordering omakase gives you a more personal experience, with food of the highest caliber.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind before choosing to order omakase:
Omakase at a high quality restaurant can provide you with one of the best meals you’ve ever had -- but by the same token, ordering omakase at a chain or inexperienced restaurant might be no different from what you can find on the menu, served at a higher price for dishes you didn’t choose. Stick to restaurants you trust, or respected restaurants known to serve good omakase.
Speaking of price, be prepared to pay a mystery sum at the end of the meal. Don’t expect an itemized receipt; rather, you are paying for the entire experience. Ordering omakase gives you a high-quality, personalized meal, but with a more expensive price tag to match. However, when it comes to good omakase, it may well be worth it!
Needless to say, omakase is not for the picky. You will be served a wide variety of dishes, many of which you may not have tried before, so beware if you have allergies, dietary restrictions, or very specific food preferences. If you order omakase, respect the chef and try everything you are served.
Omakase allows a chef to craft a meal composed of dishes that best represent their skills, so if you’re feeling adventurous, give the chef a chance to show off and give yourself a chance to try something new and unexpected! Chances are, you won’t be disappointed.