What is omakase? The Japanese translation of this luxe and adventurous sushi experience literally means “I trust the chef.”
The multicourse dinner is prepared at a small bar where the chef engages with his guests; it's like having a private chef for the evening. Though $50 or more per person for a tasting may seem a bit pricey, the opportunity to eat a customized seasonal menu in an intimate environment is an experience well worth the price tag.
The restaurants below push boundaries with Insta-worthy flavor bombs. New York has an edge on the omakase experience importing fish daily from Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo—the world's largest fish market—receiving exclusive varieties faster than even some local markets in Tokyo. Here’s our guide to some of the best omakase spots around the city, from hidden gems and sushi rock stars to an unconventional but equally legendary, bacon omakase.
Omakase Room by Tatsu
Omakase Room by Tatsu is an intimate, 500-square-foot restaurant with minimalist design and soft, floor-to-ceiling bamboo surfaces. Chef Tatsuya Sekiguchi’s menu treats diners to a custom 18-course menu at the Hinoki-top, eight-seat sushi counter. Omakase Room sources fish from Japan and the U.S. coasts and features over 25 varieties of fish that change daily. The dining experience starts at $120, exclusive of tax and tip. Seating is available M-Sa at 6 pm, 7:30 pm and 9 pm; reservations are required. Omakase Room by Tatsu, 14 Christopher St. (corner of Gay St.), 212.367.2067
Belly, New York City’s first bacon omakase, in Williamsburg. The concept started as a series of laid-back, Korean bacon-centric dinners that owners Phillip Cho and Anna Lee used to stage for their pork-obsessed friends, featuring quirky riffs on traditional Korean home cooking.
Belly offers the most affordable omakase on our list with a nine-course omakase for $45. This unorthodox omakase is meant to be fun and experimental but the chefs bring serious culinary technique to each course. Some menu standouts include bacon carpaccio: thin-sliced, house-cured pork belly dressed with seductive truffle oil, Himalayan pink sea salt, black pepper and shaved Parmesan; and the bacon sushi: sliced pork belly torched tableside and dotted with wasabi and Sichuan chili oil over sushi rice. Hours are M-F 5:30 pm-midnight, Sa and Su 10:30 am-midnight. Belly, 219 Grand St. (corner of Driggs Ave.), Brooklyn, 1.888.777.0087
Gaijin: The word Gaijin translates to “outsider,” and executive chef Mark Garcia is an outsider himself—a sushi chef from Chicago preparing Japanese-inspired contemporary cuisine in Astoria, Queens.
His omakase changes seasonally but always begins with an appetizer, followed by a soup course. Menu highlights include kasugo dai—baby red snapper—brushed with the chef’s special soy sauce and topped with shiso leaf, monkfish liver, spicy daikon and crushed sesame; aburi toro—seared fatty tuna—stacked with chives, buttery uni and beluga caviar; and seared wagyu beef with garlic olive oil uni. Hours are M-Th 5-10 pm, F-Sa 5-11 pm. Gaijin, 37-12 31st Ave. (btw 37th and 38th St.), Astoria, Queens, 929.328.2890
Sushi by Boū
Sushi by Boū: What does a young Jewish guy from Florida know about sushi? A lot. Chef David Bouhadana spent his early 20s training in the Kansai region of Japan, learning from the masters and perfecting his craft. When he returned to the States, he settled in New York City, working in kitchens such as Sushi Uo and Morimoto.
Chef David’s newest omakase destination, Sushi by Boū, is located beneath The Sanctuary Hotel, with another location inside Gansevoort Market. At both locations, he invites a maximum of four guests at a time to experience a 12-piece, 30-minute, $50 omakase menu. Chef David has made a name for himself by recreating Japan’s authentic fast-casual omakase concept with his own signature style featuring toro—tuna belly—wagyu beef, and uni—sea urchin.
The Gansevoort location is open for lunch M-Su noon- 3:30 pm and dinner M-Su 5-10 pm. Sanctuary Hotel is open for lunch M-F 11:30 am- 2:30 pm and dinner M-Sa 5-10 pm. Sushi by Bou has a text-only reservation platform. Sushi By Boū, Gansevoort Market, 353 W. 14 St. (corner of Hudson St.), 917.870.1587, Sanctuary Hotel 132 W. 47 St. (btw 6th & 7th Aves.), 917.348.5737
Sushi by Bae
Sushi by Bae: Chef Oona Tempest, formerly of Tanoshi, is one of the only accomplished female sushi chefs in NYC as women are traditionally shunned in the sushi kitchen. She is an artist by trade and believes her work behind the sushi bar is as much a performing art as it is a culinary craft.
At pop-up Sushi by Bae, $100 per person allows four guests to experience Tempest’s 17-course omakase of all Japanese imported fish including an appetizer, 15 pieces of sushi and a hand roll. Her creativity and sushi combinations reinforce her place in the tradition-oriented sushi world.
In 2016, at only 23 years of age, Tempest was named one of Zagat’s top 30 chefs under 30. Sushi by Bae is open for dinner Tu-Sa 5-10 pm and have a text-only reservation platform. Sushi By Bae, Gansevoort Market, 353 W. 14th St. (corner of Hudson St.), 347.495.4221
Sushi on Jones
Sushi on Jones is New York’s first alfresco omakase bar, offering traditional 12-piece tastings in 30 minutes for $50. With a flagship in The Bowery Market, Sushi on Jones brings a fast-casual and traditional Japanese experience. From uni to toro to Botan shrimp to wagyu, only the best cuts are served.Text-only reservations are encouraged. Sushi on Jones is open daily for lunch Noon-3:30 pm and dinner 5-10:30 pm. Sushi on Jones, 348 Bowery, (corner of Great Jones St.), 917.270.1815
Sushi Inoue won its first Michelin star this year after having been open for two years and is the first restaurant in Harlem to achieve the honor.
Chef Shinichi Inoue is charismatic and educates the diner about every handcrafted piece of sushi, which he delivers with art and precision. His omakase is a journey through his hometown of Nagasaki, Japan, in addition to a feast of seasonal cuts of seafood imported from Alaska, Canada and the States. Sushi Inoue’s omakase is the priciest on our list. Starting at $200 it includes appetizers, autumn bonito roll—salad style—nice pieces of sashimi, a cooked fish dish, 10 pieces of sushi, a hand roll, miso soup and dessert. Hours are Tu-Sa 5:30-11 pm and Su 5:30-10:30 pm. Sushi Inoue, 381 Lenox Ave (corner of 129th St.), 646.766.0555