There’s a Reason the Omakase Dining Experience Is Unlike Any Other
Keen on a dining experience of life-changing caliber? Book an omakase reservation. The intimate culinary tradition that hails from the counters of Japan—and was immortalized in Jiro Dreams of Sushi—translates to ‘I leave it up to you,’ nodding to the meal’s format of leaving all decision-making up to the chef (as in, they curate your tasting menu crafted from the finest seasonal ingredients). Guests are seated at a counter with small occupancy, in the realm of eight to twelve chairs, and a superior dinner of cinematic proportions commences. Interest piqued? Continue ahead for 14 of our favorite places to partake in this highly-revered form of eating, scattered across the United States.
Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows (Los Angeles, CA)
What better environment to experience fresh, delicate fish than by the sea? At Soko, the eight-seater gem located within LA’s historic Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, guests can enjoy a menu by veteran sushi Chef Masa Shimakawa at this oceanfront icon. The name ‘Soko’ translates to ‘storeroom’ and is a nod to the restaurant’s humble origins—it was built out of a storeroom in the hotel’s main floor lobby. Chef Masa’s menu takes a simple-yet-refined approach featuring an assortment of Nigiri with fresh selections like tuna, red snapper, selva shrimp, yellowtail, omega blue kanpachi, among others. And while you’re here, why not add on the sake pairing for $50? You won’t regret it. ($185 per person)
Gansevoort Meatpacking (New York, NY)
Situated on 850-square-feet of the Gansevoort Meatpacking Hotel’s roof sits Saishin, an Omakase sushi experience at the helm of Chef Frankie-Yong Doon. The restaurant is centered around a custom-created quartz omakase bar that seats 16 (with 50 additional seats at tables lining the perimeter of the rooftop offering New York City skyline views). The name Saishin translates to ‘something new’— “My goal is to create a new and unique meal for each guest I meet at the omakase bar—to ask them to slow down and enjoy life’s simple pleasures,” Chef Frankie says. Saishin also does a la carte dining and a few inventive dishes include Hikarimono Saba with green apple and goma, and the corn leaf smoked tasmanian ocean trout topped with Smoky onion. (12-course omakase $135, 15-course omakase $175)
The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach (Oahu, HI)
A reservation at Sushi Sho (something that books up several months in advance) is so covetable that guests are known to book their stay at the resort around when they can secure a seat at the table. What’s so special about it? This on-property restaurant offers a 10-seat dining experience led by Chef Keiji Nakazawa, who is known for his inventive style of Edomae sushi. At The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach his omakase-style meals focus on pairing varying types of seasoned rice with over 40 different kinds of fresh fish. Each dish is inspired by local, fresh ingredients and pairs with the restaurant’s impressive sake selection. ($300 per person)
New York, NY
In the heart of SoHo and from the team behind Takeshi Sushi and New York Sushi Ko comes Kintsugi at 28 Grand Street. This omakase is at the helm of Executive Chef Victor Chen and the name for the restaurant is inspired by the Japanese art form of repairing that which has been broken. Leaning into this notion, the dinnerware that guests’ meals are presented on is in collaboration with EM Ceramics and Spark Bird Studio who created a line exclusively for this Edomae-style restaurant. Kintsugi offers three tiers of premium omakase along with a rare uni tasting and rare whiskey and sake bottlings. (Starting at $95 per person)
Among the more buzzy restaurant openings in Atlanta this year, Mujo is the city’s only omakase. Their female sommelier Irina Zolotukhina features several selections from female toji (brewmasters) and the omakase-only tasting menu is led by Executive Chef J. Trent Harris. This menu changes daily, leaning on seasonal ingredients and fish flown directly from Japan. Mujo’s modern Edomae style is a selection of small plates and seasonal nigiri and guests can also choose to do beverage pairings with their dinner. ($225 per person)
Oyster Bay, New York
A serene hamlet located on the north shore of Long Island, Oyster Bay is home to this 10-seat chef’s tasting counter by Jesse Schenker. It’s situated inside a restored shingle cottage circa 1920s and the first floor has been transformed into an exhibition kitchen that’s aesthetic speaks to Scandinavian design. The twice nominated James Beard chef (previously of Recette) offers an ever-changing menu cooked at the centerpiece of the room within the blue Bonnet cooking suite featuring a Japanese charcoal grill. Guests have a front-row seat to the action and enjoy 10 to 12 raw fish, shellfish, and cooked fish courses (premium farm meats are also served). A local woodworker was commissioned for Four to create one-of-a-kind exotic wood serving pieces and can be purchased for your at-home omakase. ($245 per person)
In Philadelphia’s trendy Fishtown neighborhood comes a new omakase concept located on the corner of Lee and Master Street. Here, Chef Hiroki Fujiyama (previously from Philly’s Morimoto where he trained under world-renowned chef Masaharu Morimoto for over 10 years) oversees the seasonal omakase menu inspired by his hometown of Kyoto. Pull up a chair at the 12-seat counter and expect mouthwatering nigiri that ought to be enjoyed with the six-course sake pairing. The restaurant is hidden in the back of the Wm. Mulherin’s Sons building with a separate, stylish entrance and inside of this dimly-lit space diners can enjoy the minimalist, elegant design (like the 10-foot-wide door made locally entirely by hand using the ancient Japanese technique of Yakisugi). ($155 per person)
Aman New York (New York, NY)
Perhaps the buzziest NYC hotel opening of 2022, Aman New York brings with it Nama, a restaurant that translates to ‘raw’ in Japanese and that embraces age-old preparation techniques signature to the finesse of the Japanese kitchen. Nama can be found on the 14th floor of the property and has an omakase bar identifiable by its elegant Hinoki wood counter. Here, diners enjoy 15 to 18 courses prepared on the spot by Chef Takuma beneath a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired ceiling and lighting pendants that cast an ambient hue upon the dishes.
Austin, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Miami, and Aspen
James Beard Award-winning Chef Tyson Cole has long been a passionate student of Japanese tradition, as evidenced by his restaurant Uchi (Japanese for ‘home’). It originally opened in Austin, Texas in 2003 but has expanded to Dallas, Houston, Denver, and Miami and will even have an epicurean takeover at Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado from December 14 to 17. The experience is approachable and guests can choose between the Chef’s Tasting, Signature Tasting, and Vegetarian Tasting to help cater to each guest’s preferences and tastes. Highly recommended: tapping sake sommelier Peyton Walson to provide pairing recommendations for each dish.
New York, NY
A culinary figure arguably synonymous with Edomae sushi, Chef Kunihide “Nakaji” Nakajima brings his talents and 30 years worth of experience to his namesake restaurant Nakaji, located on the Bowery in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood. He began his training in Tokyo at age 17 at his father’s restaurant and moved up the ranks, eventually working at establishments such as Uogashi in the East Village and Sushi Inoue in Harlem, which under his leadership maintained its Michelin star in 2019. He launched his restaurant in 2020 and here guests enjoy a 14-course sushi omakase that he crafts and hand-serves after considering their individual tastes and mood. ($275 per person)
New York, NY
Tucked away in a secluded location inside Grand Central below the One Vanderbilt Avenue in Manhattan sits a new omakase restaurant from Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud and former Masa Chef George Ruan. The concept of the experience nods to the sushi destinations in the train halls of Tokyo, with the design by Simplicity Design Founder Shinichiro Ogata. There are just 18 seats available each night (with a 10-seat counter and eight-person private room) and the intimate menu leans on fresh, seasonal ingredients paired with premium sake and fine wine. The team also opened Jōji Box, which is a separate to-go sushi counter adjacent to the restaurant where you can get take-out and delivery. ($375 per person)
San Francisco, CA
Devote omakase fans living in San Francisco may already know about the acclaimed Akiko’s, which sources from local purveyors and Tokyo’s famed Toyosu Fish Market. This December, the restaurant is opening its new flagship location designed by AvroKO at Avery Lane (an outdoor pocket park by Related California in San Francisco’s East Cut Neighborhood). The concept will be helmed by Chef-Owner Ray Lee and will be centered around a dramatic 24-seat Chef’s Stage. The menu will be composed of dynamic nigiri and sashimi selections alongside seasonal dishes from the kitchen. They’ll also be debuting a comprehensive bar program with technique-driven cocktails, plus international wines, Japanese beers, and—of course—an assortment of reserve sake.
Sushi by Scratch
Montecito, Encino, Seattle, Miami, Cedar Creek
If a micro, intimate dining environment is what you’re after, book a reservation at one of Scratch’s omakase concepts scattered across the United States. Chefs and owners Phillip Franklin Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee honed this sushi experience, earning them a Michelin star at their Montecito, California location. The destinations offer just 10 seats and are frequented by celebrities (Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have even dined here). Enjoy their uniquely-curated omakase menus with beverage pairings and rest assured your time here will be deeply personalized.
Blue Ribbon Sushi has been around since the ‘90s but just this year the acclaimed restaurant group opened Blue Ribbon Sushi Kenmore Square in Boston, located at the doorstep of Hotel Commonwealth. It’s the creation of Master Sushi Chef Toshi Ueki and the menu features a range of traditional Japanese cuisine, including nigiri, sashimi, and chef-crafted maki rolls, all made with a selection of fresh fish flown in daily from the Sea of Japan, the Pacific Ocean, and local New England Waters. The restaurant is also offering an omakase menu crafted from premium fish selected by the Chef. (Starting at $150 per person)
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