Omakase is a Japanese phrase that means “I’ll leave it to you.” Essentially, you’re ordering the chef’s choice when using this term at a Japanese restaurant. We were recently invited to dine at Omakase, a traditional Edomae-style sushi bar in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood, where rather than selecting items from a menu, guests have three pricing options to choose from. The team of chefs led by Chef Jackson Yu serve a series of items based on what guests choose to spend.
Much of the fish served is flown in several times a week from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market, so you’re getting ingredients you would find in a restaurant in Japan!
With a total of 14 seats, no matter if one chooses the early or later seating, the dining experience is intimate and special. We certainly felt like special guests when we arrived.
Our belongings were tucked away under our seats in baskets that were likely custom produced by Japanese artisans for the restaurant. Most of their dishware and pottery is, at least. The quality of the wood, ceramic and porcelain is apparent, and if you want to hear the story behind each piece, your server will be more than happy to explain. The quality of the ingredients and tabletop accessories make the dining experience at Omakase like no other in the Bay Area.
Nishida Kikuizumi Ginjo Sake from Aomori prefecture
Akitabare Suirakuten Daiginjo Sake from Akita prefecture – enjoyed out of tin Mt Fuji sake cups!
The dining experience reminded me of the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi, where piece after piece of fish is presented for consumption. It was less intense, of course. I didn’t keep track of the timing of our meal, but it was a much more relaxed pace.
Lobster Snow Crab Salad (left) and Ball Sushi with Fresh Ginger (right)
Uni Fish Cake over Kombu (edible kelp)
Live Octopus, Ocean Trout with 24k gold flakes, Trout Belly, Bluefin Tuna, Black Sea Bream
Close-up of the Sashimi
After the sashimi course of the meal came the nigiri. We were encouraged to use our hands and to enjoy them as the chef prepared them without adding soy sauce of our own. I didn’t mention my aversion towards wasabi, but the small amounts used didn’t bother me too much.
Shima Aji (Striped Jack) and Blue Fin Tuna
Isaki (Grunt Fish) and Torched Butterfish
Chef Jackson torching it up
Saba (Japanese Mackerel) and Spanish Mackerel
Hamo (Daggertooth Pike Conger/Eel) and a small break from all the nigiri – Grilled Sea Bass over an English Pea Puree
Hobo (Sea Robin) and Braided Kohada (Gizzard Shad)
Anago (conger eel) and Kinmedai (Golden Eye Snapper)
Bluefin Toro and Uni with Roe
Final courses: Toro with Pickled Radish in Torched Seaweed, Egg sushi, and Red Miso Soup with Manila Clam and Mirugai
If either of us had a different appetite, we could have requested more or less rice with each nigiri. We were pleasantly stuffed at the end of the meal, so no adjustments were necessary. There are benefits to reserving the later seating. We arrived at 7:30pm, and there was no worry of having to eat as fast as we could because there wouldn’t be another seating after us.
Since Japanese cuisine is at the top of my list, I am excited for future visits to Omakase for another seafood experience!
Disclosure: Our dinner at Omakase was complimentary. Thanks to Omakase for hosting us! All opinions expressed here are my own.