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Omakase

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Despite eating Japanese food semi-regularly most of my life, I've only very recently heard of Omakase (it's not advertised much at Japanese restaurants in York Region - or at least not the ones I've been to). In any case, I've decided to give it a go. My price range is around $50-70 per person, and I'm wondering what the best choices are for more authentic and exotic fare.

Opinions vary a lot, and there are a large list of restaurants. The consensus seems to be that Sushi-Kaji is the best, but it's slightly out of my price range. Restaurants such as Japango, Omi, Zen, Cafe Michi stand out.

Thanks!

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  1. I have had the omakase at Mye Restaurant in Oakville. It was absolutely amazing. It might be a far drive for you but the restaurant is located near all the nice shops downtown so you could make a evening of it.

    1. I've had the Omakase at Japango a few times, and it was excellent every time. The last time, I took a large group for a celebration (gave them advance warning, of course) and they did a fantastic job for an incredible price. Everything was so fresh and the presentation wowed everyone. Two of the more experienced foodies in the group said it was the the best Japanese meal they'd had in Toronto (note: "in Toronto" is always a caveat) - and one of the two is Japanese.
      Omakase is usually 65-70 per person there, so it fits your budget. Great food, especially for the price. Note it is not a fancy place - really small; wobbly wooden tables; etc., so if you are looking for a more elegant atmosphere, this is not your place. You might also want to make sure that Bruce (owner/chef) will be there cooking that night.

      1 Reply
      1. re: 11oclockish

        i found omi lacking a bit in their cooked items although i'm thoroughly impressed with their sushi/sashimi. john lee's passion for his fish can be ultimately astounding. thus far the best sushi rice i've ever had in a chirashi by far as well (of course i haven't been to japan ;) if you were to do an all raw omakase, this would be my pick. ultimately, i believe their omakase is also out of your price range.. either $75 or $85, can't recall. you may be able to talk to him in advance for an alternative pricing.

        japango would be my choice (i haven't been to zen or cafe michi yet) because they're very well rounded. the more advance notice you offer the more interesting it gets. i've given them little to no notice before and received some lovely items. i noticed that they do a mix of traditional and some non traditional. i was quite happ with a $55 omakase i received for a late lunch and the $75 omakase i had for dinner with my parents was filled with toro, unagi, uni and a few other premium fishes. they seem to consistently serve you their chawan mushi and the oyster shooter though... so each consecutive omakase is a little less interesting.

      2. if you're in york region, the best bet is solo-sushi ya up in Newmarket (291 davis dr.). The price is $47 if I recall and includes a variety of dishes from sashimi to nigiri to cooked foods. It is definitely a hidden gem for Japanese food. Other than Hashimoto and Kaji, it is my favourite Japanese spot in Toronto. Well yeah it's not Toronto, that's the major drawback of it being that far north. It's only a 15-20 min drive from York region.

        Amy Pataki of the Star wrote a glowing review, but it's no longer in their archives.

        regarding Japango, the $65-70 is before tax. For that price, I rather spend another $10-15 and get the $80 selection at Kaji. Don't get me wrong, Japango is a great restaurant, but I feel the $80 option at Kaji offers more creativity and innovation.

        1 Reply
        1. re: aser

          I definitely agree with Japango's pricing. It was good, but not much creativity. I will pay the extra for Kaji. Kaiseki Sakura is also a good option i guess~

        2. I've been to all of these places save Cafe Michi. For the convenience factor of not having to drive downtown I'd say Zen would be the winner. They serve great fresh sushi. To be honest I'm not certain if they omakase. Perhaps give a call first. They have a couple of private booths in the back so whatever you do, book a reservation!!! (416) 265-7111

          A big notch up from there is Omi. You can indeed give your budget and expect it to be met. I've shown up on a whim and ordered omakase and it's never been a problem. Agreed with PSP that the sushi is the true star here. Perhaps its in this context that the cooked items seem 'lacking' to her. John has a real gift for taste/texture momentum. It would compare the experience to romantic dancing.

          Kaji & Japango are both good for the budgets they suit although Japango is incredibly cramped and noisy. I personally prefer Omi & Zen.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Googs

            Yes, Zen has sashimi and sushi omakase (they are both ~$45). Great quality.

            Do you mean the omakase at Cafe Michi is not good quality or not good value ? I have not tried omakase at Cafe Michi but their sashimi quality is great ! Just tried it last night.

            1. re: skylineR33

              I'd say that le Cafe Michi omakase is (was?) very good in quality, but it's not creative, which is what I'd like to experience when ordering a chef's recommendation. When I compared my experience with someone who went months earlier, we had the exact same dishes! I'd rather go for their regular menu, which I have also enjoyed very much in the past.
              I last went before the change in ownership, so perhaps things have changed?

              montage below of my omakase dinner (pre-toshi-san!)
              -- I also had the Chocolate Sake cake, but no picture..

               
              1. re: jinxed

                I had the exact same dishes in April for omakase. They are good quality. However, I found it very boring. I prefer their regular menu as well.

                Wonder if any one has tried the amakase there after the new management?

            2. re: Googs

              in may, after reading positive things about omi, i called and made a reservation for a sat. night 7:30pm (father's day weekend celebration with family) and was told no problem. i left my name and phone number when i made this reservation.

              couple weeks later - when our group got there for our dinner, we found the restaurant closed and the people sitting out front told us no one had been there at all that day. i was pretty ticked off no one bothered to call and tell me this beforehand, especially since we don't live that close by, and last minute trying to find somewhere nice to eat at dinner time on a sat. is not fun. pretty unprofessional and doesn't make me too keen to give them another chance. omi is still in business right?

              1. re: auberginegal

                i was there a week or so ago and so yes, they are still in business. that's really a shame, i wonder what in the world would have happened such that they wouldn't open on a saturday night!

                service has been a bit of a mixed bag with them though. i go there for the passion of fish!

                1. re: auberginegal

                  Oooh that's terrible. I only reasons I think that would happen would be a dire family or medical emergency. I'd rather be wrong and find out he just didn't feel like showing up at work that day. However, that wouldn't be at all like John. I'm sure if you related your experience to him he would make an effort to make it up to you. Although he's very nice too everyone that comes in.

                  Indeed service has been hit & miss as John gives newly landed people jobs. Right now he has two serious hits, his sidekick at the sushi bar and the young lady serving the tables. Makes for a nice show.

                  1. re: auberginegal

                    I used to be a regular of Omi for the omakase lunch. I made reservation & mentioned that I'll be having omakase.
                    After 2 times that John did not show up on time, I decided not to go there any more.
                    Now, I frequent Takesushi for the excellent sushi & sashimi.
                    In fact, I found that Takesushi carries all the fish that Kaji has. Better yet, I can order as much as I want.

                    1. re: ace123

                      I am also a fan of Take Sushi. They offer omakase in different prices/sizes ($60-100). Overall, I found the dishes to be more creative than Kaji. Kaji's forte is sushi/sashimi (the best!), but Take had many lovely cooked and seasonal items.

                2. Thanks for the responses everyone! Based on the responses I think it'll probably be Omi (because I'd prefer sushi and sashimi only), and maybe Zen and Solo-sushi ya one day. Hopefully it'll be a good day, and the chef will be there.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: GeeDee

                    Make sure to let John know that you are looking for fish only. He has always catered to my every request, although fish only will likely cost closer to $100pp. If it's not busy, let him know your budget and you should do very well.

                    1. re: GeeDee

                      It will pay dividends to book your omakase in advance at Omi. John has been very accommodating of my whims when hubby & I just show up on his doorstep hungry. I note, however, that when I book an omakase evening and let him know it's a special occasion he's been simply spectacular both in selection and presentation.

                    2. Ematei has basic omakase for $48 that includes sushi, sashimi and variety of cooked dishes. You'll get more interesting dishes by making a reservation several days in advance.

                      Katsura at the Westin Prince Hotel also does omakase starting at $90/person. You just name the price per person and the chef will come up with an appropriate seasonal menu. The reservation should be made more than a week in advance so that special ingredients can be ordered from Japan. We had a group dinner for 10 last year in the tatami room that was quite memorable.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tampopo

                        Agreed! Ematei has awesome cooked dishes with their omakase, and I've had different menus each time (three?) that I have been.

                        1. re: tampopo

                          Nice to see that Ematei was mentioned in this thread, I had the omakase there this saturday and was quite pleased with the selection for $48. While the sushi and sashimi were just decent, the cooked dishes were competent and tasty and I definitely left full! I really love the cooked dishes at this place.