So you are at that fancy restaurant that you have been dying to go to. You even made a reservation in advance and are ready to have an experience that stands up to the hype. As you make your way down the extensive delicately described dishes with just as eye popping prices you notice one bare corner reading, 'Omakase' .___$$' The least descriptive item on the menu is the one the chef most highly recommends.
Then what is this expensive one word item on the menu? What is an Omakase? It translates in Japanese to literally mean 'entrusting.' In the context of a restaurant it means letting the chef decide but it is almost always a culinary challenge. Customers of an Omakase are known to have very discerning palettes and trust an often unnamed sum of money in the chef. In return the chef uses his freshest ingredients to put together a culinary occasion worthy of your trust. He Where better to try the Omakase then at the trendiest most hyped Japanese restaurant across the country, Nobu? I certainly had a dining partner with a discerning palate, my boyfriend, Cesar who is a chef at one of the best restaurants in New York City. As a struggling freelance writer trying to make ends meet, I also wait tables at one of the biggest and busiest restaurants in New York. With years of restaurant experience behind us we were certainly ready to put Nobu to the test. At Nobu you can chose an Omakase at the price of $80, $100 or $120 dollars per diner. I chose to challenge the chef with the most decadent option and what followed was nine courses nothing short of magical.
We started with a lovely half bottle of Sancerre to accompany the first four courses that would make up our appetizers. My favorite of the appetizers was a Toro tuna tartar with a miso wasabi sauce topped with caviar. The first dish alone illustrates how much you can get for your money during an Omakase. We had sampled a similar dish the night before at Bond Street, minus the caviar, for $17 dollars and it was a much smaller portion. During an Omakase, the chef wants to impress you and you get the honor of sampling dishes not on the menu. We later had Kummamuto Oysters with soy sauce and scallions, Baby yellowtail sashimi salad and red snapper sashimi with an Ecuadorian chili paste.
An aged hot sake would perfectly complement our 3 main courses, each extraordinary. We started with the trademark Nobu dish, the miso-glazed black cod with foie gras, pickled scallions and Japanese eggplant. When we thought nothing could top that, they brought us a truly amazing seared Kobe Beef done Peruvian style laying a bed of raw onions and sauteed vegetables. While eating the Kobe Beef, I couldn't even hold conversation because the unbelievable tenderness of the meat paired with rich South American flavors was overwhelming. I later regained the power of speech during our final entree course, a traditional sushi diner.
As I teetered to the bathroom, craning my neck to look for celebrities, I wondered how I could possibly eat more. I wasn't overly full definitely not in the traditional American oversized portion sense. The food was light, savory and many dishes were accompanied with a pickled vegetable meant to aid digestion between courses. As I made my way back to the table I decided that I had what it takes to finish this Omakase strong. No one likes a quitter!
Cesar chose a light Muscat to stand up against our 2 desert courses which still remained a surprise to us. What came out first was a luscious lychee and star anise gratinee, with edible gold leaf. It was so distinctive yet refreshing; it seemed to change the flavor of the wine. For our final course a chocolate molten cake with green tea ice cream appeared before us. The rich Asian and French pairing was a perfect ending to a decadent culinary experience. While an Omakase dinner for two might cost as much as a weekend beach getaway, the experience last well beyond the sand in your shoes. The courses were inventive and the service was knowledgeable and friendly. This waitress and chef were delighted to see Nobu stand up to it formidable reputation.