First Time Dining at an Omakase Restaurant? 7 Things You Need to Know!

6 January 2020

There is no menu to choose from. If you’ve not been to an omakase restaurant, it’s an experience you should try at least once. Omakase, which literally translates to “I will leave it to you” in Japanese, means just that. You will be trying a multi-course meal specially prepared and curated by a head sushi chef according to the freshest fish available of the season.

This also means you should leave your Type A personality by the door, and let the chef do what he does best.

Instead of choosing your dishes from a menu, you only have to inform the chef of your dietary restrictions and any dislikes, before he creates a series of dishes for you – beginning with the lightest. The experience – like any high-end restaurant – can be daunting if you haven’t been and are unsure of the etiquette. While the chances of offending anyone are low, it’s always good to be aware of any norms to fully enjoy the ride.

Here are some tips you should take note.

1. Make a reservation
Optimise your experience by minimising your wait time.

2. Be prepared to spend
Because you pay for what you get, you can expect to fork out more than a pretty penny for your experience. This includes the ingredients – which may be flown in fresh from fish markets in Japan. The bill may not come itemized as well, so don’t expect a breakdown of what’s what.

3. Ask for the base price
Some restaurants may be willing and able to provide a rough estimate on their prices. If you’re concerned, about the total sum, prevent sticker shock by asking the restaurant if there’s a base price, and how much each additional course would cost. Just note that not all restaurants may not be as upfront with their pricing, but a rough estimate would be helpful.

4. Interact with the chef
Unlike regular or less personal restaurants, omakase is a fairly intimate experience, with a small number of diners per chef. Unless you’ve opted for a private dining experience, ask for a seat near or in front of the chef, so you can see how each dish is being prepared, and ask questions. This adds to the overall experience.

5. Don’t be a picky eater
Trust the chef. Apart from listing your allergies and restrictions, don’t question every dish when it’s being served. Keep an open mind, and see where it leads you.

6. Ask before you take pictures
In this day and age where picture-taking is practically the norm, it’s easy to forget that not everyone appreciates the intrusion. While pictures of food are fine, be sure to ask the chef’s permission before snapping any mugshots of him.

7. Learn the terms
It is traditional to thank the chef for the food before and after eating. If you can manage it, show some appreciation for the chef’s efforts by saying “itadakimasu” – which means “I humbly receive”, or “thank you for the food”.

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