Never Done Omakase But I'm Ready to Try!
I wanted to seek your opinions before I go for my first omakase experience. I turned 27 a few months ago and set 27 goals for myself to accomplish this year - trying omakase for the first time is one of them!
I love, love, love sushi and am fairly adventurous so I'm ready to go for it. The question is, where? I'd love to hear where your recommendations are for a newbie as well as anything else I'll need to know. What do I say to the sushi chef? How do I politely refuse something - eel, for example? What should I expect to pay - and if possible, could you let me know of places that run the gamut so I can choose which one works best for me?
Thanks in advance. I promise to keep yall posted!
With omakase, you start with budget and go from there.
<$100, $100 - $200, $200-400, $400+
pick one and the hounds will do the rest =P
My go to place is Oshima in Orange. They seat approximately 12 people at the bar which is the only option for omakase. Once seated, the sushi chef gleam with happiness when you ask that you want omakase. They have a choice of 8 pcs, 10 pcs, 12 pcs, and up. Price fluctuates depending on what is served. Expect the 8 pcs to range from $40-50. The chefs will also ask you if there's anything that you don't like so that avoids your problem of refusing a particular dish.
The last time I was there was a few months ago, 18 pcs, 2 large Sapporo = $115 + tax/tip. At that price, I had Otoro twice.
Happy Birthday to you!
Your post raises many questions that will point to good answers:
-- what price you are willing to pay (as opposed to what you should "expect" to pay), as most places will adjust the quality and quantity to your budget)?
-- are your interested in, and "fairly adventurous" about, just fish, or fish + other dishes?
-- what is your preferred location?
That said, here are some contenders (it is an LA-centric list, I do not know OC). You can look the places up and see if they have what you want, where you want it, and at a price you are willing to pay:
As for what to say:
--Hello, or Konichiwa
--I like everything except xxxxx (may be more polite to tell one of the servers rather than chef unless he asks)
--I want a bottle of your best sake.
Yeah, I'd like to know too.
Though when I went roughly 9 or 10 years ago, it was $40 bucks, when it first opened but prices are now much higher than that even if we are just adding inflation into the proprietary mix.
So $50 would be very good, when Kiriko and Mori are at minimum, at a minium, staring from 100 bucks a fucking pop.
It's been $60-$65 the 10-12 times I've been.
Regarding the hostility, it's well documented on Yelp and even by supporters of the place here on CH. I'll leave it at that. It's not a place I would send a first timer for omakase.
Sure it's a good deal but you get what you pay for. The quality and selection isn't in the same class as Kiriko or Mori. But not half the quality which makes it a good QPR.
I remember when I went there back in '02 I believe for the second time, and they brought out my chowhound review from behind the counter, they were pleased with the review and pleased with customers in my opinion at the time.
Maybe they have a strong customer base so that they can turn away newbies perhaps or send them the way of the table instead of a prime, venerated seat at the bar.
But it's been a few years since I've been next time I'm in OC, I'lll give them a try again (though I do want to hit up Oshima too to see what they are doing with the Nozawa style of sushi).
I am curious to see how this turns out. I do hope you will report back. You suggested that you don't like eel. Do you like sea urchin? Maybe you'll find in the course of following the chef's choices that you may like some things you did not expect to enjoy. Or maybe the end result will be that you would prefer to simply choose your favorites and leave the omakase to others???
If you want recs in Glendale/Pasadena, I really like Nishi-ya (Glendale), Ichi and Kimagure (Pasadena). I found the chefs at all three to be very open to you saying no on something and open to questions about particular fish, etc.
Of course if you're on the westside, downtown or in the valley, many options there, some of which have already been recommended.
re: Robert Thornton
YES, i was going to suggest Nishi-Ya. Not only is the Omakase excellent, but the atmosphere is so laid back. They encourage 'chef's choice' and will ask if there's anything you don't like. We were just there for the first time in ages a couple of weeks ago. I really love that place.
I really need to try Kimagure.... I'm adding that to my to-do list!