Why omakase is back on the menu for food lovers

When it comes to fine dining, the art of living dangerously is the moment you leave the decision-making up to your chef and let go of any preconceived ideas you have about certain foods. In Japan, the tradition is known as omakase, and it's making a culinary comeback.

Omakase translates to 'I'll leave it up to you". It's about trusting the process and letting the head chef create a bespoke dining experience – sort of like letting the chef run you a hot bath and trusting it's okay to step in without scalding yourself. Okay, maybe not, but you get the drift.

A mouthful

At Crown's Nobu, omakase has been on the menu since 2007. Under the watchful eye of Chef de Cuisine, Sean Tan, a perfect balance of flavours is the key to a successful experience. This is where seasonality, quality and creativity converge on a plate.

These one-bite dishes are designed to leave you elated, not bloated – it's where a chef's choice decides what you're eating or dinner tonight.

A Signature Omakase at Nobu starts at $135pp and includes their worldwide renowned black cod Saikyo Miso. You can upgrade to the Chef's Omakase ($155pp) which means you're getting a few extra dishes in the mix, where seasonality rather than your facial expression at the table decides what comes next.  

Freedom of choice

The rise of omakase is in part thanks to decision fatigue by diners; but it's also because diners want an out of the bento box experience when it comes to Japanese food.

According to Sean Tan, who has been with Nobu Melbourne since 2011, the popularity of omakase has hit an all-time high in the past two years.

"Omakase has always been popular at Nobu, but it creates a sense of excitement for our guests whilst delivering the best Nobu experience that you could wish for," says Tan.

Over six to eight courses, you can indulge in Hiramasa yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno to snow crab, grilled mayura gold Wagyu with three-sauce and a yoghurt mousse tamarillo.


Big ticket taste

The sleek Euro-styled vision of Carlton's latest addition Kazuki is proof that Japanese dining is ever evolving. Husband and wife team Saori and Kazuki Tsuya, who moved their restaurant Sakana from Daylesford to the city (it still remains in regional Victoria but as a casual eatery) have also jumped on the omakase revival train.

Here the chef's choice covers five to seven courses with matching wines also optional. Book the private dining room upstairs for the best way to start your weekend.

If you're looking to expand your social circle, Kisumè's communal dining table could be your ticket.

The Chef's Table leans on the Japanese tradition of respect and hospitality while focusing on the richness of local produce. Designed to be an intimate journey, the table seats up to 12 and starts $195pp.