What Is Omakase?

Tradition meets the tide at Sushi Haru, where Chef Hiro applies an artisan’s touch to each course of Hong Kong’s finest Edomae-style sushi. But what is omakase, and how did this style go from Japan’s shores to a globally beloved culinary tradition?

Omakase is an art form rooted in the rich tapestry of Japanese culinary culture. Its story is as much about the food as it is about history, tradition and the magic between chef and guest.

Historically, omakase, translating to “I leave it up to you,” emerged from the sushi counters of Japan. This was not just a meal; it was a testament to the chef’s mastery, a showcase of the freshest, most exquisite ingredients of the day. The concept revolves around trust and respect, with the chef taking the lead, crafting a personalised experience for the guest.

In the world of omakase, each morsel is a reflection of the season’s bounty. The chef, akin to a conductor, orchestrates a symphony of flavours. Every ingredient is chosen for its peak freshness and quality, each course meticulously selected to build on the last, creating a crescendo of culinary delight.

At Sushi Haru, the Edomae-style experience is steeped in history. Edomae, literally meaning “in front of Edo,” references Tokyo’s former name, Edo. Originally a form of fast food for the bustling merchants and workers in the city, fishermen would catch fish from the bay, and sushi chefs, known as itamae, would prepare the sushi with rice and serve it in a style that was quick to eat and easy to carry — a necessity for the fast-paced life of Edo.

The essence of Edomae-style sushi lies in its simplicity and the emphasis on the natural flavours of the ingredients. The fish is typically served as nigiri — slices of raw fish over hand-pressed, vinegared rice. What sets Edomae sushi apart is the meticulous preparation of the fish. Techniques like aging (jukusei), marinating (zuke), and simmering (ni) are used to enhance the flavour and texture of each course.

In the hands of a skilled Chef like Chef Hiro, omakase becomes an edible narrative. At Sushi Haru, two types of rice are used, each graced with Chef Hiro’s own unique vinegar concoctions. More than mere grains, they are storytellers themselves, each a poetic tale of balance and harmony.

Then there’s the fish, the heart of this Edomae style. Chef Hiro, his hands shaped by the finesse of kaiseki cuisine, brings an artisan’s touch to each slice. His techniques are a dance of the old and the new — some steps are time-honoured traditions of Edomae, others are bold, innovative flourishes from his own repertoire. Each piece of fish, whether it adheres to the traditional ways or bears Chef Hiro’s signature finesse, is a testament to his mastery, a canvas where his unique creations are on display.

At its core, omakase is a celebration of simplicity and complexity, an embrace of the unexpected. It is a culinary adventure where the destination is unknown, but the journey is always unforgettable. This is omakase: a historical tradition, a modern marvel, and a timeless testament to the art of Japanese cuisine.

Enjoy the finest, delicately and skillfully prepared by our own Chef Hiro, at Sushi Haru.

Sushi Haru will open from 24-26 December and then will be closed for the holidays from 27 December to 10 January. Reserve now.

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