The Essential Chicago Eats For Every Omakase Mood

The Japanese concept of omakase—“I’ll leave it up to you”—allows the expert chefs to make the choices. And who better to decide which freshly flown in fish you’ll be indulging in tonight? As these multi-course tasting menus are completely customized, you should expect a unique experience to the gastronomic delight you have the pleasure of visiting. From nine courses to 20, these are the three Chicago spots that’ll satisfy whatever omakase mood you’re in.


Kyōten

Photo Credit: Nika Sagalchik

Mood: A high-end, traditional omakase experience.

This super-intimate sushi spot lives in a minimalist, open space. Its gallery-esque setting with an eight-person sushi bar is almost an homage to the food Chef Otto Phan prepares behind his wooden counter, as the small bites floating on your plate are a form of art. The unadorned environment is purposely so; this special experience comes from the euphoric combination of exceptional rice, phenomenal fish, and flavorful detail. Conversation with the chef is included in the meal—and you’ll happily eat up what he has to say. His thoughtful commentary on anything from technique to his earlier life makes the omakase experience that much sweeter.

The chef “forces you to have [his] best,” throughout a two-hour, 20-course, seasonal omakase dinner. Expect a whole lot of melt-in-your mouth rice and butter-smooth sushi. Kyōten specializes in vinegared rice. It serves as the perfect surface for the restaurant’s exquisitely aged fish, so soft it practically dissolves the moment it touches your lips. The chef’s approach is forward-thinking in its bold taste, and yet always respects tradition. Though the omakase changes daily, you can look forward to chutoro garnished in ginger, green onion, and real wasabi, otoro sprinkled in yuzu zest and enhanced with citrus notes, and white fish sashimi misted in olive oil and Japanese fish sauce. Most importantly, what you’ll always get is pure goodness. No spicy mayo required.

2507 W. Armitage Ave., Logan Square, (312) 678-0800


Sushi-san

Photo Credit: Nika Sagalchik

Mood: Fun, casual vibes paired with good omakase.

The scene: Hip-hop beats heightening your level of excitement within a brick-walled, dimly lit interior. The vibe: Fun, lighthearted, and relaxed. As soon as you feel your shoulders shimmying to your favorite jam, you’ll realize this isn’t your average sushi joint. You wonder—will the food be as impressive as the restaurant is playful? The answer is yes—it’s a menu that’s fallen from heaven. Sushi-san has gone where so few omakase spots have gone before, creating a casual atmosphere for such a delectable experience.

For the four people lucky enough to snag a reservation at the omakase bar that night, Chef Kaze Chan promises the best of everything through a 14-course dinner that changes daily. And the chef’s omaKAZE certainly lives up to his word. Beginning with a delicately crafted dish filled with tuna sashimi and embellished in gobo and jalapeño, your taste buds are screaming for more. Continuing on, you’ll indulge in creatively prepared, fresh nigiri—think kanpachi dusted with ginger chive, spotted prawn brushed in butter garlic, aged toro topped with uni. After tasting the otoro pampered in black caviar and fresh wasabi that’s been grated on shark skin, chances are you’re going to become a repeat customer.

63 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654, (312) 828-0575


Momotaro

Photo Credit: Nika Sagalchik

Mood: An omakase centering around small plates rather than sushi.

Upon entry you’ll have trouble deciding just where to focus, as the breathtaking design is a serious attention grabber. The large space immediately establishes itself as a place to see and be seen inside its urban Japanese environment; all of a sudden, you know you’re in for an exciting night out. Mere moments later, you’ll get your first taste of the fantastical menu. And with every bite you’ll realize that Momotaro has accomplished the nearly impossible: Its food outshines its brilliant ambiance.

The omakase at this hotspot is curated by Chef Gene Kato based on the individual. It’s a combination of small cold and hot plates, as opposed to a stream of sushi bites that you may have become accustomed to when ordering omakase. Kato demonstrates his ability to create an inventive menu that centers around simple ingredients in which the colorful flavors are found in the details. Kicking off with an oyster so delicate and large it’s divided into three, topped with calvisius caviar and tosazu jelly, is a teaser of the pleasures soon to follow. Among these divine dishes: A Japanese take on chicken liver paté, a surf-and-turf like combo of madai sea bream and A5 Wagyu beef, and no-frill thrills like Alaskan king crab, tontoro and lamb drizzled in spicy miso sauce.

820 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60607, (312) 733-4818

Loader