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Few cultures have elevated eating to an art quite the way the Japanese have. They are the ones with the Way of Tea or sado wherematcha is not just enjoyed, it is experienced. They introduced kaseiki where Japanese haute cuisine is savoured in multiple courses. Of course, they were also the ones who developed omakase or the tradition of letting the chef serve you his selection of dishes.
Omakase, which literally means “I’ll leave it up to you”, is the ultimate vote of confidence in the chef’s choices and culinary chops because when you dine omakase-style, there is no menu. You get no say in what you eat. Instead, you surrender to a series of tiny dishes which the chef will prepare for you based on the season, his skills and his assessment of what might satiate your appetite. It is an intimate, personalised fine dining experience.
Given the bespoke service, most omakase restaurants are luxurious outings. There are, however, some that offer the omakase experience that will not burst your budget.
Source: Seth Lui
They call themselves a modest sushi bar but apart from their prices, this contemporary diner is anything but. Their omakase menu starts from a 15-course lunch for just $38 which is a steal considering that there are places that charge as much as $480 for far fewer courses.
Your lunch begins with a hijiki seaweed salad that is a savoury mix of seaweed and shredded carrots designed to whet your appetite. This is followed by edamame seasoned with a sprinkling of salt. Truffled onsen egg is next. Served with a ring of vibrant orange ikura (salmon caviar) that is bursting with flavour, the dish is a delightful study of textures - smooth, creamy egg and pops of briney goodness. An assortment of nine sushi pieces is the highlight of the meal, each topped with the freshest of seafood. A hand roll, a chirashi bowl bedecked with a generous portion of diced raw fish and a robust seaweed soup cap off the meal
For $68, you get an extra three pieces of sushi that include premium tuna. For a treat, try the $98 18-course Sea Urchin menu which includes the seafood in both the sushi and the chirashi bowl.
Source: Seth Lui
This is a kushiyaki (grilled skewers) restaurant that offers an omakase set of eight kushiyaki along with appetisers and a choice of rice bowls. This amounts to 13 courses but costs only $40.
Sashimi lovers will enjoy their appetiser of salmon, tuna and yellowtail slices. If it is in season, you might get to sample the goose barnacles, a shellfish that looks more fruit than fish. For the rice bowls, opt for the wagyu fried rice that comes with generous chunks of perfectly done beef.
Source: Ms Tam Chiak
Despite the somewhat French-sounding name, this is really a Japanese restaurant with Italian leanings. At this 14-seater, Chef Shigeru Shiraishi offers an omakase set for $60.
The eight-course meal starts off with a potato salad that balances the velvety spuds with crunchy onions bits. The silky smooth burrata cheese that comes after is a nod to the restaurant’s Italian influence. A medley of seafood is next: Hiroshima oysters; a crab cake packed with sweet, succulent fresh crab meat; grilled salmon steak served with asparagus and ikura; spicy tuna tartare fragrant with fried garlic; and black cod fish with truffles and spinach miso sauce. A staple rounds off the savoury selection. In keeping with the Italian theme, the dish is a pasta. A yuzu sorbet makes for a palate-cleansing finish.
Source: Haikumai Sushi & Omakase
This restaurant prides itself on using ingredients from Japan to give you an authentic taste of the country. Whether it is imported Niigata Perfecture koshi rice or seasonal produce from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market, no expense is spared. The most affordable item is their eight-piecesushi omakase set at $78.80. It is indeed a small price to pay for sushi that transports you straight to Japan. The meal comes with the seasonal fish kawahagi, soup and a dessert.
Source: SG Magazine
The teppanyaki restaurant that seats about 30 has an $80 nine-course omakase menu. Designed to display the culinary expertise of the chef, the dishes are done in a variety of cooking techniques including steaming, sautéing, grilling and searing.
Among the appetisers that are particularly noteworthy is the seared specialty sesami tofu. The perfect square of beancurd with a crisp crust and a soft interior comes with an earthy flavour from the sesame. Beef tendon with cabbage features beef that is steamed to ensure the slices remain tender then sautéed to seal in the flavours. A hint of heat from the paprika and the added crunch from the cabbage make the dish that much more interesting.
The mains include Ohmi wagyu beef steak which can be done to your liking. The simple dish is made divine by the beautifully marbled cut that makes for a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture. The inclusion of the okonomiyaki is an inspired touch. The pancake of batter, Japanese yam, seaweed, eggs and vegetables with pork belly bacon and garnished with bonito flakes and spring onion is a satisfying combination of sweet and savoury.
Source: Daniel's Food Diary
Teppei is the sister restaurant of Hana-Hana. With just 22 seats, getting a spot in this restaurant can be a challenge. But if you can get reservations, it is definitely worth your while. Apart from the amazing quality of the food, Teppei boasts sheer quantity as well. Their omakase menu is an $80 18-course affair, which is twice the number of courses offered by most omasake restaurants. What makes it even more value-for-money is that their courses often come with multiple items. Their appetiser, for example, is a platter of a few appetisers.
Like most omakase places, the menu changes periodically. So, part of the fun is to return to Teppei to see what the chefs have in store for you. If you are lucky enough, you might get to sample of the foie gras and onsen egg. The former has a rich smoothness while the latter is perfection personified.