As the area gets more — and better — sushi restaurants, the omakase experience is becoming more prevalent. Omakase is a Japanese term that translates roughly as “I’ll leave it to you.” When you request omakase, you put your trust in the sushi chef to present you the best and freshest and finest.
This concept isn’t unique to Japanese restaurants. Many cuisines, though mainly upscale restaurants, offer chef’s tasting menus that might include little bites or full entrees, all at the whim of the chef. Regardless of the type of food, diners who choose this option tend to be more adventurous and willing to try something different. But even the most daring diners often say they would order omakase only in a restaurant in which they are a regular and they know the chef (and the chef knows the diner, too).
Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs recently added an omakase option and I was invited recently to give it a try. Here the dinner is offered only at the sushi bar — and only with a minimum 24-hour advance reservation and deposit. The cost is $150 per person, and after my nearly three-hour experience, I can’t imagine any lover of sushi and Japanese food walking away feeling that it wasn’t worth it.
Omakase is the purview of the sushi chef, but chef de cuisine Yuhi Fujinaga was our guide for the evening. He explained the progression of the dinner and the various courses that would be represented. Technically, there are seven courses in Morimoto Asia’s omakase, but some of those courses have multiple components, so it seems like much more. For example, the sushi course had five items, each presented separately, as did the sashimi course. The high-grade Wagyu beef was served two ways. And there was a “pre-dessert” before the final plate.
Below is how the evening flowed. You may also click on the video below to get a look at the meal.
The first course was a Mizuhiki Salad, with shaved radishes, katsuo-bushi and a burnt shallot vinaigrette, presented in a clear wrapper tied up with ceremonial strings.
Sushi was next.
Ishidai, Knife jaw snapper
Chutoro, medium fatty tuna
Kampachi, amber jack
Anago, sea water eel
Sashimi began with Kusshi Oyster with Sakura mignonette.
Hokkaido Scallop with bottarga and a dressing of olive oil
Saba, (Boston mackeral), torched, ginger soy
Shima-Aji, (Striped Jack), verjus vinaigrette, tonburi (vegetable pod caviar)
O-Toro, smoked over Mason Jar devices, Urfa Biber (Smoked Turkish pepper), Black Hawaiian Lava Sea Salt
Agemono is the fried course. It featured Flash Fried Whole Triple tail and King crab ankake on crispy shanghai noodles.
Yakimono iss the grilled course. Spanish Octopus, piquillo pepper, mushrooms that Fujinaga trimmed from the jars they were growing in (Maitake, Enringi, Nebrodini, gallego oil), all grilled on a hibachi at the end of the bar. The light grilling left the octopus with a wonderful fatty feel in the mouth.
The braised course, nimono, was the first presentation of the A5 grade Wagyu beef, which looked like a loaf of fat with tiny veins of beef. Fujinaga said that special care had to be taken when slicing it because the very friction of the knife would begin cooking it. The meat was served ChabuShabu style in broth with a large Carabinero, or Spanish red shrimp).
More of the Wagyu followed, this time as loin strips lightly grilled and topped with freshly grated wasabi (the real stuff, not the Play-Doh-like paste served in many sushi bars). No teeth were required.
After two servings of superior beef, my companions and I were surprised to find another savory course, this one called the Tomewan, or closing bowl. It was a full serving of Super Tonkatsu Ramen with spicy ground pork, chewy woodear mushrooms and a soy egg.
Cucumber-Thai Basil Sorbetti with dehydrated soy and Shiso salt was the so-called pre-dessert.
And finally, the actual dessert of Kabocha Squash Lumpia with ginger gelato.
An extraordinary experience (though the stools at the sushi bar don’t seem to be graded for longterm seating). The graciousness of the chef and staff, the excellent quality of the food, and the perch overlooking the elegant restaurant make it special.
Morimoto Asia is at Disney Springs. Omakase is available nightly but requires a minimum 24-hour advance reservation and $75 per person deposit. The phone number is 407-939-6686.