“I’ll leave it up to the chef” is what “omakase” means in Japanese, which means you likely won’t know what dishes you’re getting till it’s on your plate. This unique selling point is what makes omakase dining – typically a multiple-course meal – so attractive!
Just sit back, relax and watch the chef prepare the food before your very eyes. Diners are usually not given a detailed menu prior to their session so each and every dish that is presented will be a surprise.
Unsurprisingly, such a meticulously curated meal can be quite an expensive affair. For example, an omakase dinner at the cult favourite Sushi Kimura can set you back about $300 to $400.
However, this does not mean that there are no wallet-friendly options available. There are a few places in Singapore that do offer decent omakase meals. While they’re not cheap by any means, these restaurants below are your best bet if you want to enjoy a premium experience for a reasonable price (there’s even one at a jaw-dropping $38++).
Helmed by Chef Eugene Lam, the cosy 30-seater restaurant regales gourmands with one of the most affordable omakase menus in town, curated specially to include the best of everything from land to sea. Indulge without breaking the bank with the 8-course 舞 Mai menu, priced at only $68++ and available permanently for lunch daily.
The 8-courses comprise two delectable seasonal appetisers, followed by two kinds of seasonal sashimi. Warm things up with a chawanmushi of the week and a gindara miso yaki of smooth black cod lightly seared with a touch of miso. Get to the best of Unkai Sushi with three seasonal sushi, using premium quality Japanese rice seasoned with a unique blend of umeboshi vinegar. The menu culminates with a mini chirashi don (additional $38 to upgrade to a Magic Bowl), served with heart-warming miso soup. Finally, the meal is rounded up on a sweet note with ice cream dessert.
For busy days, take a breather and treat yourself to a 5-course lunch set starting from only $26++. Served complete with a salad, chawanmushi, miso soup and dessert, you get to pick a main of your choice from nine items, each promising high scores on satisfaction and satiation.
1 Tanglin Rd, #01-10, Singapore 247905
Establishing its first Southeast Asian outlet in Singapore, Ganko Sushi promises diners a lavish 12-course omakase experience, without breaking the bank. Using a myriad of seasonal ingredients air-flown three times weekly from Japan, Ganko Sushi’s specially curated omakase menu is ever-changing to showcase the restaurant’s innovative creations with the change of seasons.
Demonstrating the culinary display of the fine art of Japanese cuisine, each dish on the omakase menu, which includes zensai, soup, sashimi, takiawase, yakimono, chef’s selection of premium sushi and dessert, has a place in the procession. Think, dishes like Abalone with Tosa Vinegar Jelly, a dish that spotlights the delicately sliced prized shellfish served with tosa vinegar (acombination of sanbaizu and soup stock made from dried bonito). Premium sashimi cuts such as Chutoro Sashimi, Nodoguro or Black Throat Seaperch Sushi, delicately sweet Grunt Fish Sushi, perfectly grilled Sea Eel Sushi and many more.
Prices start at $180++ for a 12-course dinner.
9 Penang Rd, #01-01, Singapore 238459
Nestled within Orchard Rendezvous Hotel is Unkai, a new 30-seater sushi-ya opened by chef-owner Eugene Lam, whose experience spans over a decade at top establishments like Hide Yamamoto, Ashino and Sushi Mieda.
Curated with the season’s choice picks, the omakase sets are priced from $88++. This gets you an appetiser, 10 types of sushi, a handroll and miso soup. Pick the $138++ or $188++ menus and you’ll also get a grilled dish and 11 types of sushi, depending on which you go for.
The sushi line-up impresses with highlights like the Peek-A-Boo, with delicate narabi uni (sea urchin) and chutoro, the smokey and buttery Binchotan sushi, and the glorious house-smoked otoro which has been aged for twenty days.
1 Tanglin Road #01-10, Orchard Rendezvous Hotel, Singapore 247905
Nestled in a quiet corner of Goldhill Plaza is Ken Japanese Restaurant, where you can sample traditional kaiseki-style omakase. Head chef Ryo Endo sends out sushi creations and mainstays that place the spotlight on fresh produce imported from Yamagata, Japan as well as other Japanese prefectures.
You can look forward to hotaru ika (firefly squid) from Toyama, Mebaru (black rockfish) from Hiroshima, and kegani (hairy crab) from Hokkaido. The omakase menus are priced from $88++ to $198++. We’re told the best-seller is the $138++ omakase menu, which sees two seasonal appetiser courses, seasonal sashimi, tempura, shiizakan, a main dish, miso soup, and a dessert.
Best make your reservations asap — the Spring menu only runs till the end of April.
1 Goldhill Plaza, #01-17, Singapore 308899
Miraku prides itself on fresh ingredients that are flown in from Japan daily. The small restaurant on Pickering Street can only fit around 15 diners at a time, so be sure to make your reservations early.
Its most affordable omakase set is the Miraku Sushi course, priced at $88++, which is only served for lunch. A seasonal starter and chawanmushi (steamed egg) prime your belly for the nine types of nigiri sushi (raw fish sushi) that follow, was well as a wagyu uni rice roll, mini maze don, soup, and a dessert.
For dinner, prices go up to $188++.
3 Pickering Street, #01-31, Nankin Row, Singapore 049660
Cho Omakase is headed by Singaporean head chef YK Chong, who combines European and Japanese culinary styles and techniques together with seasonal ingredients from Japan.
If pocket-friendly omakase is what you’re after, make a reservation for lunch, which is priced at just $68++ and will have you feasting on two appetisers, assorted sashimi, two mains, sushi, soup and a dessert. Dinner sets are from $108++ to $238++, with cooked seafood, meat and seasonal or premium sushi.
63 Chulia St, #01-03, Singapore 049514
For a novel French-Japanese omakase experience, there’s the 30-seater Jidai at Circular Road, which beckons with neon magenta lighting and quirky Japanese fortune cats.
The eight-course omakase set ($78++) starts with Botan shrimp sashimi and a large plump oyster topped with crisp umami shrimp chin. There’s also a comforting collagen chicken broth nestling a whole abalone, grilled King Hokkaido Scallop that sits in a peach foam, and red snapper tempura.
For mains, there’s the Challans duck (French duck that’s more lean) done two ways, or you can opt for the wagyu beef bowl. Your meal ends with desserts of a pillowy coconut mochi and a Kyoho grape sorbet.
And if you think that isn’t enough to tame your growling belly, there’s the 11-course menu at $108++.
9 Circular Rd, Singapore 049365
The 20-seater Kaunta bills itself a casual Japanese restaurant that specialises in aged sushi and sashimi. Its Aoi lunch omakase menu is at a pocket-friendly price of $60++ with an appetiser, a hot dish, eight pieces of sushi, a toro maki, miso soup and dessert. There are also the Kashiwa ($88++) and Tsubaki omakase menus ($100++).
#01-12 Onze @ Tanjong Pagar, 11 Kee Seng Street, Singapore 089218
Hana-Hana Restaurant (not to be confused with Hana Japanese restaurant at Forum) is the sister outlet of the equally well-known Teppei, and specialises in kushiyaki (grilled bites on skewers).
The omakase sets are from $68++ to $88++ with oyster, hot dishes, assorted nigiri and sashimi, kushiyaki, choice of chirashi don and dessert. And for a belly-filling meal, there are also small rice bowls. Talk about a value-for-your-buck experience. Make sure to get your reservations well in advance to secure your seat.
Orchid Hotel, 1 Tras Link, #01-17, Singapore 078867
Specialising in charcoal-grilled meats, Tajimaya Yakiniku served up an eight-course omakase-style lunch at $88++ and a 10-course dinner that’ll set you back by $128++.
The restaurant uses seasonal and air-flown in from Japan, so you can expect the menu to be switched up almost daily. But beef lovers will want to check it out, because both sets star premium A4 Miyazaki wagyu striploin. You can also look forward to beef-centric sushi and seasonal specialties.
Read our review here.
1 Kim Seng Promenade, #B1-115, Singapore 237994
Hana Japanese Restaurant has been located at Forum in Orchard for around several years. Apart from its ‘flying soba’ which went viral, it’s also popular for its affordable omakase sets which are priced from $38++ to $88++ — yes you read that right.
Its cheapest option comes with 15 courses which is a pretty decent amount of food for the price point and includes the likes of somen, shishamo tempura, salmon and hamachi sashimi, caramelised aburi salmon sushi, and more.
#01-17 Forum the Shopping Mall 583 Orchard Road, Singapore 23884.
This article was first published in The Singapore Women’s Weekly.