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sashimi box Nick Solares

16 Outstanding Japanese Tasting Menus That Go Beyond Sushi

An omakase can mean more than just sushi

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Domestically, we most commonly use omakase to describe sushi experiences in which one sits at a bar before a chef who decides the day’s menu. But those who have dined in Japan know that an omakase meal can center around numerous different foods, from yakitori to tempura to wagyu beef.

Japanese tasting menus come in various forms. For example, kappo-style is when a diner sits at a chef’s counter and watches a chef prepare a multi-course set menu — which can involve both raw and cooked dishes, some simple, others more complex. Meanwhile, kaiseki-ryori is a considered Japan’s highest form of haute cuisine, comprised of a sophisticated, multi-course set menu of seasonal, local ingredients which celebrate balance in color, flavor, texture, temperature. In fact, cooking with, and minimally manipulating, product that’s at its peak of ripeness and sourced locally, is the foundation upon which much of Japanese cuisine is based. And that certainly holds true for omakase menus.

While Manhattan has experienced a swell of excellent, high-grade sushi bar options in the last couple of years, New York omakase dining should not end there. Below, 16 excellent omakase options that do not include sushi.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Brushstroke

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Chef David Bouley’s six-year-old fine dining kaiseki restaurant Brushstroke excels at beautifully plated Japanese dishes built from a mix of ripe New York produce, plus other ingredients brought over from Japan. In a succession of eight courses priced at $135, one might sample Long Island duck smoked with hojicha tea along with grilled Hokkaido A5 wagyu.

Brushstroke

In a brightly lit box on Grand Street in Soho, chef William Shen (Morimoto, Jean-Georges) has been serving a Japanese tasting menu that incorporates some French technique since January of this year. And don’t be misled to believe this is a sushi bar. Usually, Shen’s two omakase options do not include sushi, although he will make off-menu nigiri for regulars and those who ask. Though diners can order a la carte, the most special ingredients are built into his seafood-centered omakase. There’s a six course prix fixe for $55, or two omakase options for $125, or $160 that span 10 to 15 courses. Shen dedicates each course to a single ingredient, like ebi or nodoguro, and finishes the meal with rice and miso soup.

Ato

Hirohisa

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Chef Hirohisa Hayashi prepares two ingredient-driven omakase options — seven courses for $100, or nine courses for $150 — plus a concise list of mostly small, traditional Japanese dishes at his kappo-style Soho eatery. The tastefully designed, minimalist space, which includes seven counter seats plus a few tables, serves as a blank canvas to bring attention to clean, seasonal plates of snow crab and abalone, which chef Hayashi heightens using Japanese ingredients.

Hirohisa

Newly minted Naoki -- the first American project from Create Restaurant Holdings, which operates over 800 eateries in Japan and around Asia — serves a sort of loose interpretation of kaiseki. The $80 set menu meal (a vegetarian alternative is also available) begins with an ornate assortment of eight small dishes, before leading into courses dedicated to salad, tofu, tempura, and heartier cooked plates. Desserts, like matcha tiramisu and soy milk cheesecake, are extra. Heading up the kitchen is Jiro Iida, previously of Brooklyn’s Salt and Charcoal.

Naoki
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Uchu, which has been opened for a couple months (bar only) and officially debuts in early September, is really three concepts in one. Sit before Ichimura-san, one of the city’s most respected sushi masters, at his 10-seat bar for a sushi omakase. There’s also a curtained off eight-seat cocktail and kaiseki bar where Brooklyn Fare alum Sam Clonts prepares a 12-course menu of expensive ingredients like a Golden Osetra hand roll. And then there’s the beverage piece devised by Frank Cisneros, which includes a comprehensive collection of Japanese whiskey, presently at 67 selections. Beyond bottles, Cisneros heads up the Japanese cocktail menu, which is heavy on sake and shochu, plus cocktails that include an edible component. 

The bar at Uchu with high blue stools Bar at Uchu

Autre Kyo Ya

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The follow-up effort to kaiseki stalwart Kyo Ya (also on this list), Autre Kyo Ya is the Japanese-French hybrid focused on both local and Japanese ingredients bent into shape using classic French technique. In addition to a la carte ordering, Autre offers two five-course omakase menus priced at $50 and $80, which include dishes miso cracker hummus and zucchini blossoms stuffed with scallop and crab.

Autre Kyo Ya

Torishin

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To experience this restaurant at its best, request a counter seat in front of owner Ikeda-san. Kono-san, second in command, is very good, but Ikeda-san — who right now only works Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday nights (call ahead to check) — carries on the skill of his master, Yoshito Inomata, responsible for one of Tokyo’s fine yakitori haunts, Toriyoshi. Torishin offers a few different experiences: There’s a more casual rear bar with a few omakase options ($70, $65, $55), and a la carte skewers (meat and veg, and other Japanese appetizers), but the middle is the kappo-style, eight seat bar that’s omakase-only. While that set menu runs $150 — comprised of seasonal Japanese appetizers and a slate of less skewers that show off less common chicken cuts.

An overlooked gem tucked away in the East Village, Michelin-starred Kyo Ya has been serving a pristine, ingredient-driven kaiseki menu for the last decade. Reserve a space at the six-seat chef counter where Chikara Sono will prepare an 11-course seasonal menu priced around $125 or $150 with dishes like Tajima beef cooked on a hot stone and summer truffle rice.

Kyo Ya

Secchu Yokota

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One of the best deals in town is chef Secchu Yokota’s $65 tasting menu, though a $95 option is available as well. New York’s second omakase restaurant focused on tempura, the namesake tasting bar has mostly flown under the radar since its debut last year. Here, Yokoya is serving set menus of small appetizers, followed by seven or so pieces of assorted tempura, a noodle or rice dish, followed by dessert. Of course ingredients fluctuate seasonally, which means the menu changes often. Note, there’s just eight bar seats with two turns (6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) per night.

Secchu Yokota

Toshio Suzuki and his son Yuta of Midtown’s shuttered Sushi Zen are back with Suzuki, the ambitious kaiseki restaurant and sushi bar, Satsuki,  also in Midtown. While Toshio is again behind Satsuki’s 10-seat sushi bar, former Sushi Zen executive kitchen chef Takashi Yamamoto is responsible for Suzuki’s kaiseki menus,  which come in four tiers: $150 for 10 courses, $120 for nine courses, $75 for eight courses, and the nine-course vegan menu runs $80. Basically, with the priciest menu, you get a couple more bells and whistles, like live scallop and a crab and mango dish.

Hakubai

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Hakubai in The Kitano offers $190, $160, $120, and $100 omakase kaiseki menus under the watch of chef Yukihiro Sato, presented in an austere space with blonde-wood accents. While the two priciest menus include a range of small appetizers, sashimi, and more substantial course of A5 wagyu from Miyazaki, if you’re looking to spend a bit less but still experience the seasonal multi-course menu, pick soba or tempura as your main dish for $100.

Hakubai

Kajitsu

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One of New York’s two Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurants (Nix being the other), Kajitsu serves shojin ryori, the ancient style of multi-course vegetarian cuisine consumed by Buddhist monks in Japanese temples.  In fact, elaborate and beautifully presented shojin cookery pre-dates kaiseki, and was the style of cuisine from which it was inspired. The eight course Hana menu runs $95, while the 10-course omakase is $125. Menus changes as ingredients shuffle into and out of season.

Kajitsu

Tempura Matsui

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Tempura Matsui is serving some of this country’s best tempura, with a respectably light batter that serves as a lean shell to encase seasonal vegetables and seafood. Sadly, Tempura Matsui’s lauded, namesake chef and owner Masano Matsui passed away last year, but that hasn’t impacted the cuisine. Choose from three tasting menus: The first, priced at $220, begins with sashimi and a series of appetizers, before moving into a tempura series, a soba option, then dessert, and tea. The $165 menu is pretty similar, though omits the early appetizers. For $120, it’s a focus on tempura, with one starter and one post-tempura savory course, then dessert.

MIFUNE New York

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One of the city’s splashiest openings this year, Mifune is the modern Japanese-European hybrid which also houses subterranean sushi bar Sushi Amane, helmed by Shino Uino formerly second in command at Tokyo’s legendary Sushi Saito. But upstairs at Mifune, guests have the option to order a la carte or leave themselves in the hands of Hiroki Yoshitake’s (of Michelin starred Sola in Paris) for a $120, eight-course engagement. Sample dishes include uni with ponzu jelly and broiled shrimp with caviar.

foie gras terrine Nick Solares

Zenkichi

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With an emphasis on junmai (pure rice) sake, Brooklyn’s Zenkichi is an elegant, high-end izakaya that also prioritizes omakase dining. As one will commonly find in Japan, most tables are separated by hanging wooden curtains for a semi-private dining, and this spatial divide lends a unique intimacy less ubiquitous in the U.S. Beyond small share plates of tofu and an assortment of tempura, patrons can opt for a season-specific omakase (vegetarian and wheat-free options exist too), which changes almost every month. The eight course $75 menu (vegetarian is $65, wheat-free is $75) includes dishes like deep-fried soft shell crab with Hokkaido uni sauce as well as Japanese pork belly, flash-boiled in hot sake.

Zenkichi

OKONOMI // YUJI Ramen

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While Okonomi’s ramen omakase has been discontinued, now the sliver of a Japanese washoku spot — washoku representing traditional Japanese cooking that respects locality, seasonality, freshness, and balance — is offering a single $140 (tip included) eight-course tasting menu for eight diners on Saturday nights. Similar to its set breakfast and lunch menus hinged on clean fish and vegetable dishes cooked with fire or water (sans oil or butter), the omakase follows the same principles, with little ingredient manipulation and an attention to fermentation.

Okonomi Nick Solares

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Brushstroke

Brushstroke

Chef David Bouley’s six-year-old fine dining kaiseki restaurant Brushstroke excels at beautifully plated Japanese dishes built from a mix of ripe New York produce, plus other ingredients brought over from Japan. In a succession of eight courses priced at $135, one might sample Long Island duck smoked with hojicha tea along with grilled Hokkaido A5 wagyu.

Brushstroke

Ato

Ato

In a brightly lit box on Grand Street in Soho, chef William Shen (Morimoto, Jean-Georges) has been serving a Japanese tasting menu that incorporates some French technique since January of this year. And don’t be misled to believe this is a sushi bar. Usually, Shen’s two omakase options do not include sushi, although he will make off-menu nigiri for regulars and those who ask. Though diners can order a la carte, the most special ingredients are built into his seafood-centered omakase. There’s a six course prix fixe for $55, or two omakase options for $125, or $160 that span 10 to 15 courses. Shen dedicates each course to a single ingredient, like ebi or nodoguro, and finishes the meal with rice and miso soup.

Ato

Hirohisa

Hirohisa

Chef Hirohisa Hayashi prepares two ingredient-driven omakase options — seven courses for $100, or nine courses for $150 — plus a concise list of mostly small, traditional Japanese dishes at his kappo-style Soho eatery. The tastefully designed, minimalist space, which includes seven counter seats plus a few tables, serves as a blank canvas to bring attention to clean, seasonal plates of snow crab and abalone, which chef Hayashi heightens using Japanese ingredients.

Hirohisa

Naoki

Naoki

Newly minted Naoki -- the first American project from Create Restaurant Holdings, which operates over 800 eateries in Japan and around Asia — serves a sort of loose interpretation of kaiseki. The $80 set menu meal (a vegetarian alternative is also available) begins with an ornate assortment of eight small dishes, before leading into courses dedicated to salad, tofu, tempura, and heartier cooked plates. Desserts, like matcha tiramisu and soy milk cheesecake, are extra. Heading up the kitchen is Jiro Iida, previously of Brooklyn’s Salt and Charcoal.

Naoki

Uchu

Read Review |
The bar at Uchu with high blue stools Bar at Uchu

Uchu, which has been opened for a couple months (bar only) and officially debuts in early September, is really three concepts in one. Sit before Ichimura-san, one of the city’s most respected sushi masters, at his 10-seat bar for a sushi omakase. There’s also a curtained off eight-seat cocktail and kaiseki bar where Brooklyn Fare alum Sam Clonts prepares a 12-course menu of expensive ingredients like a Golden Osetra hand roll. And then there’s the beverage piece devised by Frank Cisneros, which includes a comprehensive collection of Japanese whiskey, presently at 67 selections. Beyond bottles, Cisneros heads up the Japanese cocktail menu, which is heavy on sake and shochu, plus cocktails that include an edible component. 

The bar at Uchu with high blue stools Bar at Uchu

Autre Kyo Ya

Autre Kyo Ya

The follow-up effort to kaiseki stalwart Kyo Ya (also on this list), Autre Kyo Ya is the Japanese-French hybrid focused on both local and Japanese ingredients bent into shape using classic French technique. In addition to a la carte ordering, Autre offers two five-course omakase menus priced at $50 and $80, which include dishes miso cracker hummus and zucchini blossoms stuffed with scallop and crab.

Autre Kyo Ya

Torishin

To experience this restaurant at its best, request a counter seat in front of owner Ikeda-san. Kono-san, second in command, is very good, but Ikeda-san — who right now only works Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday nights (call ahead to check) — carries on the skill of his master, Yoshito Inomata, responsible for one of Tokyo’s fine yakitori haunts, Toriyoshi. Torishin offers a few different experiences: There’s a more casual rear bar with a few omakase options ($70, $65, $55), and a la carte skewers (meat and veg, and other Japanese appetizers), but the middle is the kappo-style, eight seat bar that’s omakase-only. While that set menu runs $150 — comprised of seasonal Japanese appetizers and a slate of less skewers that show off less common chicken cuts.

Kyo Ya

Kyo Ya

An overlooked gem tucked away in the East Village, Michelin-starred Kyo Ya has been serving a pristine, ingredient-driven kaiseki menu for the last decade. Reserve a space at the six-seat chef counter where Chikara Sono will prepare an 11-course seasonal menu priced around $125 or $150 with dishes like Tajima beef cooked on a hot stone and summer truffle rice.

Kyo Ya

Secchu Yokota

Secchu Yokota

One of the best deals in town is chef Secchu Yokota’s $65 tasting menu, though a $95 option is available as well. New York’s second omakase restaurant focused on tempura, the namesake tasting bar has mostly flown under the radar since its debut last year. Here, Yokoya is serving set menus of small appetizers, followed by seven or so pieces of assorted tempura, a noodle or rice dish, followed by dessert. Of course ingredients fluctuate seasonally, which means the menu changes often. Note, there’s just eight bar seats with two turns (6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) per night.

Secchu Yokota

Suzuki

Toshio Suzuki and his son Yuta of Midtown’s shuttered Sushi Zen are back with Suzuki, the ambitious kaiseki restaurant and sushi bar, Satsuki,  also in Midtown. While Toshio is again behind Satsuki’s 10-seat sushi bar, former Sushi Zen executive kitchen chef Takashi Yamamoto is responsible for Suzuki’s kaiseki menus,  which come in four tiers: $150 for 10 courses, $120 for nine courses, $75 for eight courses, and the nine-course vegan menu runs $80. Basically, with the priciest menu, you get a couple more bells and whistles, like live scallop and a crab and mango dish.

Hakubai

Hakubai

Hakubai in The Kitano offers $190, $160, $120, and $100 omakase kaiseki menus under the watch of chef Yukihiro Sato, presented in an austere space with blonde-wood accents. While the two priciest menus include a range of small appetizers, sashimi, and more substantial course of A5 wagyu from Miyazaki, if you’re looking to spend a bit less but still experience the seasonal multi-course menu, pick soba or tempura as your main dish for $100.

Hakubai

Kajitsu

Kajitsu

One of New York’s two Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurants (Nix being the other), Kajitsu serves shojin ryori, the ancient style of multi-course vegetarian cuisine consumed by Buddhist monks in Japanese temples.  In fact, elaborate and beautifully presented shojin cookery pre-dates kaiseki, and was the style of cuisine from which it was inspired. The eight course Hana menu runs $95, while the 10-course omakase is $125. Menus changes as ingredients shuffle into and out of season.

Kajitsu

Tempura Matsui

Tempura Matsui is serving some of this country’s best tempura, with a respectably light batter that serves as a lean shell to encase seasonal vegetables and seafood. Sadly, Tempura Matsui’s lauded, namesake chef and owner Masano Matsui passed away last year, but that hasn’t impacted the cuisine. Choose from three tasting menus: The first, priced at $220, begins with sashimi and a series of appetizers, before moving into a tempura series, a soba option, then dessert, and tea. The $165 menu is pretty similar, though omits the early appetizers. For $120, it’s a focus on tempura, with one starter and one post-tempura savory course, then dessert.

MIFUNE New York

foie gras terrine Nick Solares

One of the city’s splashiest openings this year, Mifune is the modern Japanese-European hybrid which also houses subterranean sushi bar Sushi Amane, helmed by Shino Uino formerly second in command at Tokyo’s legendary Sushi Saito. But upstairs at Mifune, guests have the option to order a la carte or leave themselves in the hands of Hiroki Yoshitake’s (of Michelin starred Sola in Paris) for a $120, eight-course engagement. Sample dishes include uni with ponzu jelly and broiled shrimp with caviar.

foie gras terrine Nick Solares

Zenkichi