Omakase: A Personalised Eating Experience
There is no dining experience comparable to omakase—お任せ, meaning “I’ll leave it up to you.” Even the internationally-acclaimed Michelin Guide has described omakase as a “revered” and “intimidating” dining experience. What’s so scary about omakase? Is it worth it? What omakase experiences are there in Malaysia? We’ll be answering these questions in this article!
You never know what you’re gonna get
You are literally entrusting the chef with what you’ll get: as opposed to ordering off a menu, you will only be told of what courses you’ll be getting, such as appetisers, sashimi, and steamed dishes, but no other details until you are served the course in question, e.g. whether you’ll be getting seabream or swordfish, chawanmushi or dobinmushi, etc. That might also be a point of concern for some, as there is a high chance you’ll be served something you may not be keen on ordering off the menu, like monkfish liver—which is actually a traditional winter delicacy in Japan. Omakase items are often dishes that are not found on the restaurant’s menu; restaurants specialised in serving omakase don’t even have a regular food menu for you to order from as you will only be choosing from courses of different levels, from standard to premium. For some restaurants, they would require you to call and make reservations at least a week ahead
The Price is Right
There are two ways that omakase can go about when it comes to pricing: traditionally, omakase is entirely up to the whims of the chef, so there is no fixed pricing, and the total bill can come into the four-digit range just for a single person. However, because of most people’s hesitance in ordering omakase due to concerns of having to foot an exorbitant bill, most omakase restaurants would design several courses with different price points, ranging from affordable (about RM100) to mid-range (around RM300) all the way to ultra-premium (in the RM1,000 range and above). Sometimes the high price will be justified by revealing some of the premium ingredients to be included such as abalone or king crab, but the most exquisite omakase restaurants will never reveal much about their ingredients. But ultimately, whether the meal is worth every penny is entirely dependent on whether you are able to appreciate the passion that the chef has painstakingly put into each of the ingredients.
Due to the current Movement Control Order (MCO), it is not possible for any of the restaurants in Malaysia to serve omakase courses, but here are several restaurants you should plan to visit soon after the MCO has been lifted:
Omakase in the Klang Valley
Senso Omakase, located in Empire City Damansara, boasts of having the cheapest omakase in the Klang Valley. At just RM99++ per person, they might be right, and for that price, you will be getting two appetisers, eight pieces of sushi, five grilled skewers, one fried dish, one bowl of miso soup and one dessert. Not a bad deal for omakase!
Sushi Ten Omakase
Sushi Ten Omakase shares part of an open kitchen with Senso Omakase in the same location, but they are a separate entity offering a different range of omakase, starting at RM208 for their Yamasaki Omakase course which includes appetiser, seasonal soup, chawanmushi with truffle and truffle oil, simmered fish collar, sweetfish tempura, four kinds of teppanyaki (tiger prawn, scallop, squid, salmon), and dessert. From here, you can also upgrade your teppanyaki to include A5 wagyu beef or foie gras, and you can also add on other dishes such as caviar and a special uni (sea urchin) bowl, all at additional costs. There is also the Ten Omakase course at RM298 that switches out the tempura and the scallop and salmon teppanyaki for sashimi and eight pieces of specialty sushi. The highest-end omakase here would be the Koyo Omakase course at RM498 which serves a special ocean bowl, seasonal soup, premium sashimi, chawanmushi with truffle and truffle oil, snow crab and crab claw tempura, tiger prawn tempura, eight pieces of special premium sushi, special sea urchin bowl, and dessert.
Chef Takahiro Shiga has over 30 years of experience in omakase and is renowned as an omakase chef in his home country of Japan. He is the chef of Umi Omakase located in Bangsar South. He has four omakase courses for lunch and four omakase courses for dinner, all at very drastically different price points. The lunch courses are priced from RM180 for the Yuki course which includes an appetiser, a hot dish, seven pieces of nigiri sushi, sushi roll, akadashi miso soup, and dessert, all the way to RM480 for the Hisui course which includes an appetiser, seasonal sashimi, seasonal hot dish, seasonal fried item, five pieces of nigiri sushi, one donburi (rice bowl dish), akadashi miso soup, and dessert. The dinner menu starts from RM450 for the Kawasemi course which includes an appetiser, carpaccio (thinly-sliced raw fish or meat), seasonal sashimi, hot dish, four pieces of nigiri sushi, hand roll, akadashi miso soup, and dessert. The namesake course, Umi, is priced at RM1,180 and requires you to book at least one week in advance; no details of the course is revealed.
Taka & Ushi
Taka is the first three-Michelin-starred sushi bar outside of Tokyo. It opened at St Regis in Sentral, and is combined with Ushi, the first and only restaurant in Malaysia that serves Ozaki beef, which is a very exclusive breed of Wagyu raised on a single farm in Miyazaki Prefecture owned by Ozaki Muneharu. They each have their own omakase courses featuring their individual specialties: their namesake Taka Omakase course costs RM1,200 and features six appetisers, one grilled fish, ten pieces of sushi, and one sushi roll, all featuring only the most premium ingredients. There is even the option of switching out the grilled fish for grilled Ozaki beef for RM250. There are three other sushi omakase courses from RM350 to RM900, but the RM350 sushi course is only available for lunch. Ushi proudly serves their Ozakigyu Kaiseki omakase course for RM728 for lunch and dinner. All prices stated above for Taka & Ushi are not yet inclusive of 6% SST.
Omakase in Penang
Kazumasa is located in George Town, Penang, and they have four different courses of sushi omakase, starting from RM288 for their Moegi course for appetiser and sashimi, chawanmushi, six pieces of sushi, one hot dish, a handroll, soup, and dessert, and all the way to RM788 for the Chef Special course which comes with appetiser and sashimi, fresh uni, chawanmushi, seven pieces of the chef’s special sushi, one special hot dish, a handroll, soup, and dessert. You might think that it’s just sushi, what’s so special about them that one should pay such a premium for these morsels? Kazumasa prepares their own sushi rice using traditional-aged red vinegar, giving the rice a unique tinge, and the sushi are made using premium ingredients such as lobster and kaluga caviar.
Omakase in Johor
Located in Johor Bahru, Kamii Omakase has a myriad of omakase courses to choose from: five different sushi omakase courses from the RM288 Natsu course (appetiser, steamed/boiled dish, ten pieces of sushi, handroll, miso soup, dessert) to the RM788 Haru course, which is the Chef’s Special Arrangement, and three Donburi (rice bowl dish) omakase courses from the RM150 Take course to the RM280 Kiku course.
So those are some of the reasons why you should go for an omakase course at least once in your lifetime and some of the recommendations we have for omakase in Malaysia. What are some of your best experiences of omakase? Have you had any similar experiences with other types of cuisine? Let us know in the comments section below!
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