British Columbia

Omakase: a Japanese dining experience for the brave

A popular style of Japanese sushi is gaining momentum in Vancouver with more and more restaurants offering their own version.

The popular style of cuisine leaves decisions up to the chef

Omakase dishes alternate based on the type of fresh ingredients the chef has in the morning. (Muami Sushi Bar)

A popular style of Japanese sushi is gaining momentum in Vancouver with more restaurants offering their own versions.

Omakase means to entrust. Patrons sit back as the chef decides what they'll be eating for their meal.

On the Coast food columnist, Gail Johnson spoke with host Gloria Macarenko about the dining experience that picky eaters might want to skip.

"Just as the chef is experimenting, you've gotta be prepared to take a few risks of your own," said Johnson.

Omasake offerings change daily and are delivered in multiple, smaller dishes, she said.

"We're talking hyper-seasonal depending on what the chef gets in and has to work with on any given morning."

Not for the picky

She warns that those who order omakase hoping for a classic dynamite or California roll will be at a loss.

Johnson points to Tetsu Sushi Bar on Denman St. as an example. At one point, their omakase dishes included sea snails in a light broth and black cod sperm.

"It may not be for everyone," says Johnson.

She says that Omakase has also taken on another meaning in restaurants: from the heart. Johnson adds that it gives chefs a chance to shine and take risks.

"It's not just about cooking but the art of it all," said Johnson.

Silence the cell phone

Before visiting, she suggests first checking out the restaurants' website, as they can vary in the formality of the dining experience.

At Maumi Sushi Bar on Bute St., diners are expected to turn off their cell phones, talk quietly, and abstain from wearing perfume or cologne.

"It's all to create an atmosphere of respect. Respect for the chef, the food, and the people around you," said Johnson.

You can listen to the full interview below, which includes Johnson's top recommendations.