Faith in Omakase
By Lisa Hong
Restaurant-goers appreciate the power of adjustments. Add more of this, take away that, this on the side, substitute that. Albeit, a few people have strict dietary restrictions, but for the majority, they sometimes take the expertise and creativity away from the house.
In one extreme case, a chef at a California high-end restaurant was so fed up with patrons making changes to his dishes, he opened up his own place, called Father’s Office, where diners are not allowed to make any adjustments to their food (they are not even allowed to order Ketchup, unless they want to be shunned by the staff).
Some may argue that restaurants should be accommodating. If patrons are willing to spend their hard-earned money, then they should make sure they get what they want but here’s an idea; what if chefs had the power to create any meal without guests’ say? Restaurant-goers must sit back and enjoy whatever is placed in front of them. Would this scenario thrill you or scare you?
In Japan, this concept of letting the chef decide what’s best is called “Omakase”. Restaurant patrons put their faith in the “expert” and trust that he/she would choose the freshest ingredients and prepare them in the finest way. Of course, for this to work, you would need a restaurant with high standards and a great reputation.
Ready for this? I found one for you! Yakiniku JUMBO Shirokane
This place specializes in Wagyu beef, which is the highest-ranked quality of Japanese beef. This cuisine is housed in a restaurant that emulates a sleek, modern barn with its polished wood furnishings and cattle paraphernalia, which all fit together to feel high-end rather than kitschy. I personally loved looking at the diagrams that explained what meat comes from which part of the cow. Ooishii!
Reservations are recommended, as this place is extremely popular, sometimes even completely booked for a company event. As you make the reservation, request, “go-sen yen de omakase onegaishimasu”, in which you are asking for the chef’s menu worth 5000 yen per person (that’s the price I usually set at this restaurant, but you can adjust the price to your liking).
What follows is a series of meats that will be grilled for you at your table, and the server will explain which parts you are consuming and how to eat them for maximum deliciousness. This is a full service meal that is paced for you to savor the quality of the beef.
I couldn’t tell you what parts of the cow I consumed; all I remember is loving each tender, juicy, perfect bite. The restaurant does have a full menu if there is a specific item you would like to order, but I wouldn’t bother with it. I trust the house.
Yakiniku JUMBO Shirokane
Address: Dai-ichi Azabu Bldg, 1F, 3-1-1 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Open 17:00-24:00 everyday, except 12/31-1/2