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Sushi and small plate dinner ideas need.

I want to make an Omakase "style" dinner ~ as in you went to the restaurant and ordered omakase and had a memorable meal. If you have had an Omakase dinner what was on your menu? If you were to do (or have done this) this what is/was your inspiration? Are there any cookbooks, websites or reference books you can steer me towards? If you could set it the menu, what would be your "must haves" on a Omakase menu? I have access to sushi grade fish as well as other appropriate ingredients. I have editted as best I could. And yes, I have access to the fish and other ingredients I need.

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  1. I'm curious as to what the alternative to omakase would be for serving sushi at home. Doesn't "omakase" simply mean that what is served is up to the sushi chef as opposed to the customer? In my house, the "customers" get what I choose to serve them--always.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LorenzoGA

      >In my house, the "customers" get what I choose to serve them--always<

      That really isn't answering the question. Now I remember why I
      infrequently post on CH.

      1. re: LorenzoGA

        Okay, I see you reworded your question since I posted this reply. I think it's clearer now. Just asking for suggestions for serving "omakase" at home struck me as odd. I hope you receive useful answers.

      2. you could take this in so many directions... were i to do this, i'd probably start with sashimi, only because i have tried to make and failed miserably the sushi rice. but i'd also try to do some hot dishes, like a chawan mushi, and a few rolls, futomaki, for example. But i think a lot of this would depend on what fish you have access to on that particular day.

        1. I'm with LorenzoGA on this one. I don't understand the question in the context of omakase.

          1. In clarification of LorenzoGA's original answer to you, I think that you've mistaken what omakase is.

            Omakase by definition means "I leave things to you", meaning that it's the chef or the chef who dictates what you're going to be served. It isn't limited to sushi and sashimi either and it can be composed of items already on the menu or one-offs that the chef elects to create.

            When you're hosting at home, you don't give guests a menu with options - you serve them your prepared menu (I've actually tried the "give guests a menu" thing one time and it's a lot of work and a lot of confusion).

            I think what you're confusing omakase with is kaiseki-ryōri, which is a formal dinner sequence that is highly seasonal. At minimum, you're going to expect items that are simmered, steamed, grilled and raw. There are several books to be had on Amazon (Kaiseki, Kitcho and Yamazato are three titles that I have already picked up).

            4 Replies
            1. re: wattacetti

              Wrong. I mean as in an array of sushi and possibly other small plates. Is there an acceptable word for that I should be using?

              1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                You're still getting confused because omakase is used in a restaurant setting where you have the option of either choosing for yourself or letting the chef choose.

                In a home setting, that's not possible because in preparation for your dinner party, you've already chosen everything that you want to serve and guests do not have an option apart from not eating what you serve.

                An array of sushi and possibly other small plates is not omakase. If you have rice, soup and pickles as those small plates, the entirety is called a "set meal".

                If you have your sushi/sashimi and a bunch of small plates served communally, that could be like isakaya-style dining, though isakaya dining in my experience has been all small plates.

                If you presented your sushi/sashimi and small plates in a select sequence, it could pass off as kaiseki.

                Of you presented everything in small shōkadō bentō and small plates at once to individual diners, that could be casual kaiseki


                1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                  What, precisely, is wrong about wattacetti's post? They have done a good job of explaining what Omakase actually means.

                  It seems to me that you are simply preparing sushi for some guests that you are having over.

                  I would suggest moving from lighter and less fatty fish to heavier seafood over the course of the meal.

                  Personally, I am very fond of uni, and it would be relatively easy to make nigirizushi or gunkanmaki topped with individual pieces.

                  1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                    I think what the others were trying to say was that the word "omakase" means that the chef chooses what the guests will eat. That's automatic in a home setting -- you aren't giving your guests a choice of what to eat -- they will eat whatever you choose to serve.

                    I think you are trying to do a japanese theme small plate meal, sort of like japanese tapas style, correct? And wanted to know what others have enjoyed at a restaurant omakase dinner so that you could recreate it at home, is that right? If so, one of my favorites are:

                    Lightly seared sea scallop, cut in half, served with a squeeze of yuzu and and a sprinkle of sea salt.

                    Duo of steamed king crab leg (1.5-2" pieces or so) -- one drizzled with truffle oil and the other served with a light brush of a sweet soy sauce or thin glaze of some sort. I liked it so much, I asked for another at the end of my meal.

                    Sea urchin -- served in the shell as-is. Must be super fresh though.

                    Live raw spot prawns. Heads were served later in the meal, deep fried.

                2. I just want hear about an array of Japanese small dishes and sushi. Since some of you are interested in discussing my misunderstanding of the word then I have posted the question here:


                  1. Terminology aside i understand your question- for small plates i think oshinko is important, daikon/carrots/cucumber/etc...
                    If you go with sashimi then a side dish with some version of onigiri.
                    Or a small portion chilled soba with dipping sauce.

                    If you want to do yakitori there are many variations- one of the most amusing i've seen was hard boiled skewared and grilled quail eggs.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      Yeah, I think we're getting hung up on terminology. It seems all the OP is asking for is suggestions for an interesting array of things that might be offered at a sushi restaurant in addition to the common sushi items.

                        1. re: LorenzoGA

                          "Izakaya style" might be the more appropriate term.

                          1. re: joonjoon

                            Isn't izakaya food sort of intended as a complement to drinks?--like what Americans would call "bar food" (only a heck of a lot better than Buffalo wings)?

                            Now, an "Izakaya Night" at home--that sounds promising!

                            1. re: LorenzoGA

                              Yes but one of the main characteristics of izakaya food is that they're served in small "tapas" like portions..

                      1. One thing my kids really like is my chicken kara age, but unfortunately, it's the kind of thing that is easier to make in main dish quantities rather than as part of a 'small plate' meal. In case you're interested, tho, it's dead simple.

                        Skin and bone a whole chicken, and cut it into large bite-sized pieces. Marinate the chicken in a mixture of a tablespoon each of shoyu, grated ginger, grated garlic, and mirin or sherry. Mix in about three tablespoons of flour so the chicken pieces feel kind of gluey.

                        Mix half a cup of flour with a quarter cup of cornstarch. Dredge half the chicken in the flour mixture, and deep fry for about 5 or 6 minutes. Remove to a draining rack, and dredge and fry the rest of the chicken. After the second batch is on the draining rack, return the first batch to the oil for a second fry session of 5 or 6 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. Serve with a dipping sauce made of equal parts of sugar, vinegar, shoyu, and sriracha or chili-garlic paste.

                        As part of a kaiseki-style meal, it'll easily serve 10-12 people (3-4 pieces per person), but it's only one dish.

                        1. Thank you for clarifying your question.

                          I still think you should go steamed, simmered, grilled and raw. Raw is already covered, and if you want to do 5, add fried.

                          Steamed: chawan mushi, sake-steamed clams

                          Simmered: simmered fish (nitsuke) of your choice, simmered vegetables

                          Grilled: gindara no saikyo-yaki (miso-marinated black cod), eel, salt-grilled sweetfish, scallops/clams in shell, octopus

                          Fried: tonkatsu, ebi-fry, aji-fry, kaki-age,kara-age

                          Serve alongside steamed rice, a soup (miso, suimono if your skills are up to it), various pickles.

                          You can plate the fried items with shredded cabbage and potato or macaroni salad.

                          1. are you doing this plated as courses? or as a buffet-type thing? as you know omakase is progressive so what comes before is as important as what comes after. if you're just doing a buffet this matters less.

                            how many guests? do you really want to be frying things a la minute for more than a few people? how are your knife skills? what kinds of fish will you be serving? all of this will help determine a menu.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              I am just looking for ideas right now. I am not asking for help in developing a menu. It would be another guest and myself.

                              1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                This is one of my favorite izakayas. They serve small plates of what are often called Japanese tapas. Maybe there will be some inspiration here.


                            2. Most every nice meal I have had in Japan has been a succession of small plates (I used to travel for work in Japan). Even something like yakitori (so bar food and not fine dining) is a succession of grilled things on a stick.

                              Sometimes, the elements form a story or a picture... (the noodles represent a river, etc).

                              Sometimes, there is a theme or common element (ala Iron Chef). One of the most memorable meals I had in Japan was at a tofu restaurant. Every course (and there had to be 15 of them) had some form of tofu. There was a tofu + blue cheese appetizer, soup with tofu skin, grilled (like yakitori) tofu, creamy tofu desserts.

                              One further note... One of the things that I love dining in Japan is the array of pottery the food is served on. Most every course is on a different plate, all hand made, all beautiful and complementary to the food.