Omakase — which directly translates to “I leave it up to you” — refers to a specific style of dining whereby diners opt to leave the fate of their meal in the hands of the chef. Omakase concepts have been gaining popularity, not just in Singapore but around the world, due to the allure of uncertainty and surprise.
The beauty of omakase is that no one knows what exactly to expect because courses vary according to seasonality, availability of certain ingredients and ultimately a sushi chef’s experience and skill. Omakase meals are by no means cheap so if you’re looking to splurge, you’re going to want to do it somewhere that’ll leave a lasting impression. Ready to embark on a gastronomic trip across Japan? Here are 10 restaurants that’ll make the most bang for your buck.
Upscale and every bit as refined as you would imagine of a restaurant in CHIJMES, let alone an omakase restaurant, Ashino is a culinary gem that marries precision and meticulousness in order to elevate delicate, seemingly ordinary ingredients to an ambrosial level. Hidden away from the rip-roaring CHIJMES lies cosy 10-seater Ashino, run by Taku Ashino, who has trained in various sushi restaurants in Tokyo for over a decade. A testament to Chef Ashino’s commitment to ensuring only the best dining experience possible, he goes the extra mile such as grilling fish over a binchotan grill instead of using a gas torch and cooking a blend of Hokkaido and Niigata rice in a traditional iron rice pot using Mount Fuji water to achieve the perfect texture. Dishes to die for include the Fatty Tuna and Charcoal Grilled Keiji.
Fat Cow is an award-winning modern fine-dining Japanese restaurant led by veteran Tokyo-born Chef Shigeru Kasajima that places heavy emphasis on Wagyu — hence the name. The luxurious Japanese restaurant located on the ground floor of Camden Medical Centre serves an extensive handpicked selection of finest Wagyu from reputable farms in various prefectures in Japan along with certain breeds from Australia and the US. At the eight-seater counter at the front of the restaurant, the Chef's Table brings a contemporary and creative approach to seasonal fresh produce with high-quality Wagyu being the heart of the omakase.
Let your senses be engulfed by exuberant charm, comfort and elegance in the small yet cosy and modern space up in Fukui, which takes up residence within an old, unassuming shophouse located along Mohamed Sultan Road. The food served here is inspired by the coastal prefecture of Fukui, which aims to feature a slew of Japan’s seasonal produce. Take a seat by the counter and let Chef Pa’an and his team whisk you away to gastronomic heaven. With over 20 years of culinary experience under his belt, be wowed by Chef Nick Pa’an's approach to Japanese food which gently marries traditional cooking methods along with his own modern twists.
Another swanky omakase hotspot located along Mohamed Sultan Road, Ginza Shinto offers a modern approach to Japanese fine dining serving up contemporary interpretations of sushi and omakase dining on a whole. Their omakase menu gets updated biweekly to incorporate the freshest produce of the week and to keep things exciting for regulars. Expect to enjoy nothing short of Japan’s seasonal best executed professionally. Here, diners can look forward to an extra creative touch to their dishes, elevating the traditional tastes of authentic Japanese favourites. An umami bomb waiting to go off, a must-order is the signature Ikura Uni Don. Crowned with fresh house-cured salmon roe atop fluffy Japanese rice, the dish is a delicious mouthful of fatty minced tuna and sea urchin.
Located in an unassuming residential district in the Western region, Igokochi Dining Bar is an omakase restaurant in Singapore that boasts two concepts in one — an izakaya replete that often sees a regular clientele of avid whisky and sake aficionados as well as a proper sit-down Japanese dining area fitted with a 10-seater sushi counter adjacent to it. There, diners can select from both a premium omakase menu as well as a seasonal one that changes every few months. Secure a spot at the counter and grant Chef Ivan two hours of your time, during which he will no doubt take you on a gastronomic joyride and possibly share a drink or two with you in the process. Oh and feel free to turn up in shorts and flip flops. As much as Igokochi prides itself on quality food, they also encourage diners to be as comfortable as possible— hence the name Igokochi, which translates to “comfortable home”.
Incorporating fresh seasonal ingredients sourced from around the world fashioned into things of sheer beauty using Japanese craftsmanship, two-Michelin-starred Waku Ghin by Tetsuya Wakuda astounds in more ways than one. Indulge in its highly acclaimed degustation experience at the exclusive 10-seater Chef’s Table with a bespoke dining journey inspired by the best produce from across the different seasons and regions of Japan. The brilliance of Chef Tetsuya shows in his array of imaginative beef and seafood dishes that reflect his vast knowledge of what’s in season and how best to prepare them.
Shinji by Kanesaka is an offshoot of Chef Shinji Kanesaka’s Edo-style sushi restaurant first established in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza district. Serving omakase only, the restaurant pays homage to the core of Japanese culture as defined by ‘kata’ and ‘do’. True to the spirit of its heritage, the restaurant is built on a deep-rooted age-old Japanese culinary tradition that does not serve to mar the quality and integrity of ingredients but rather enhance. The restaurant has won itself countless prestigious awards including one Michelin star for six years running— now THAT’S saying something. Call for reservations.
A 22-seater omakase restaurant tucked away within Palais Renaissance, Sushi Kimura is no stranger to prestigious awards and accolades having bagged a Michelin star every year since 2018. The restaurant is helmed by Head Chef Tomoo Kimura, who boasts more than 15 years of experience at several established and authentic traditional sushi restaurants in Tokyo, including a one Michelin-starred Ginza restaurant and a fine dining restaurant here in Singapore. Prepared alongside his team of skilful sous chefs, guests can expect to enjoy seasonally curated Edomae-style delicacies and fresh premium ingredients from different parts of Japan.
Located along Keong Saik Road, 15-seater Kei Hachi is an omakase-only Japanese restaurant that serves high-quality food with ingredients that are imported directly from various fish markets across Japan. The menu offers diners three omakase courses to choose from, each armed with a fully authentic experience and quality fish and seafood you can only dream about. Among the three, the Hachi set meal comes highly recommended. It includes two kinds of seasonal appetisers, a mouthwatering platter of seasonal sashimi, a cooked dish and as many as seven pieces of Nigiri sushi. Served alongside traditional classic bites such as the Japanese steamed egg, soup and sweet dessert, this hearty amalgamation of varying tastes and textures is guaranteed to leave an impression.
(Photos from: Alvin Tan)
Don't forget to check out these 10 izakayas in Singapore, too.
Comments, questions or feedback? Email us at [email protected].