Trust can be difficult, especially when it comes to allowing someone else to choose your dinner. However, Los Angeles is ripe with talented chefs who warrant it when it comes to omakase. Japanese for “I leave it up to you,” when it comes to dining, omakase essentially translates to a multi-coursed, chef’s choice meal. Traditionally associated with sushi, omakase extends to other cuisines as well. Be it with chopsticks or silverware, here are the best “trust the chef” experiences in the city:
When you want traditional sushi omakase, Q Sushi is one of the city’s best spots for it. Chef Hiro Naruke, who has the precision of a surgeon and the creativity of sculptor, serves over 20 delectable courses during a meal. Expect exquisitely elegant and flavorful sushi utilizing techniques such as aging and curing — it’s placed atop rice that’s perfectly seasoned with red vinegar (brewed from aged sake cakes) and sea salt.
Chef Niki Nakayama’s discreet restaurant specializes in kaiseki — the Japanese equivalent to French haute cuisine. The 13-course menu ($185) reflects seasonal flavors, often harvested from her personal garden. Truly, the Modern Zukuri (kanpachi, bell pepper gelée, jalapeño gelée and avocado sauce) and every other flavorful dish are presented as a work of modern art on the plate.
If you have a taste for tempura, there’s no better place than this Beverly Hills treat. Opened in January, the tiny Japanese restaurant offers three omakase-style tempura menus ($180 to $280). Delicacies include the tempura abalone, tempura rice bowls and tempura Waygu beef.
Grab a seat at the teppan grill to watch talented chefs cook your dinner with flair and fire-throwing. Or you could always head to the sushi bar for omakase with chef Jiro Kobayashi. Roku’s six-course omakase ($80) offers innovative twists on traditional sushi classics.
Opened in January on Melrose Ave, Kali is the brainchild of chef Kevin Meehan (formerly of Patina, Bastide and L’Orangerie) and Drew Langley (former wine director of Providence). The contemporary California cuisine and refined wine menu is juxtaposed to a relaxed, minimalistic ambience. The omakase menu ($85) features eight courses and often incorporates off-menu items such as foie gras.
With avant-garde chefs (Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo) at the helm, expect the unexpected at this strip mall eatery. Not only is it one of the only restaurants in L.A. where advanced tickets are required to dine, but its monthly changing, five-course menu ($85) is full of surprises. Expect epicurean delights such as eggplant caviar, grilled beef belly and Tonka bean ice cream.
Scratch Bar & Kitchen
As America’s first restaurant run entirely by chefs, including service, bussing and seating, Scratch certainly offers a unique dining experience. Saddle up to the bar, pick the courses you want, discuss with the chef what you’re in the mood for and sit back and relax as one jaw-droppingly delicious — and creative — dish after another is plated before you. Omakase menus range from $40 to $120.