Omakase is a style of Japanese dining which I only recently heard about. After an online search, we decided to try it at Yatai Izakaya a Japanese restaurant in Aberdeen. Their website stated that Omakase means ‘trust us’ and leads to a unique dining experience where your waiter picks all the food you eat. We were excited to try this style of dining as we hoped to try new dishes we wouldn’t usually pick and maybe find some new favourites!
We arrived at the restaurant at 5.30 on the dot meaning that we had all evening to try out as many foods as possible. The restaurant was small but thankfully we had booked a table in the fully booked restaurant.
We were seated at a two-seat table, however if you visit as a group of four you can be seated right next to the grill and watch as food is made. We were happy to be away from the grill as it meant that all of our food was a surprise. We had no idea what to expect until the waiter arrived at the table!
I loved the décor, a mixture of geisha artwork, Japanese drink advertising and traditional calligraphy. As we walked into the restaurant some of the herbs the restaurant grows were also on display.
We ordered drinks and chose to eat Omakase style, for those who wouldn’t want to risk it, you can select food from an a la carte menu. The waiter asked if we had any dietary requirements and whether we had any likes or dislikes. We decided not to emphasise any favourites in the hope we would get a broad selection of foods. We were then asked how much money we would like to spend (approximately) per person. Since it was our first time, they suggested we set a limit of £35 per person and simply ask if we wanted more or less as the food arrived. It transpired that £35 was the perfect amount for us. We were full by the end and felt like we had tried lots of different food.
We sat (im)patiently for our first course to arrive and thankfully we weren’t disappointed. We were given a food we had never tried before! Unfortunately named Octopus Balls, we were given dough combined with octopus which was fried and topped with ginger, katsu mayo and bonito flakes.
They were crispy on the outside, but doughy on the inside, kind of like an octopus doughnut. I would have never ordered this from the menu and having 3 each was quite a heavy way to begin the meal, but it was fun to try and I would actually order them again too!
Our second course was quite a safe option – Squid Tempura. Thankfully, the squid was cooked perfectly and a small amount of batter was used to make this choice much lighter than the last! The dish was served with salt and lime which was the perfect accompaniment.
Before we’d managed to finish the Tempura, our next selection was brought to us. My personal favourite Salmon Maki Rolls were delivered! To add a small twist, the roll was accompanied with pickled cucumber which added a zingy twist to this simple dish.
When I had been browsing the menu when waiting to order, I noticed a salmon based dish topped with a sweet miso dressing. This was something I had been wanting to try and I was excited when it arrived. Unfortunately, I was disappointed and this was one dish I couldn’t get behind. The salmon was perfectly cooked on a skewer, but the miso sauce was the texture and thickness of strawberry jam. The flavours were nice, but I couldn’t finish my skewer, the texture just didn’t work for me!
Our next dish was one of the restaurant’s daily specials, a full fried soft shell crab served in a steamed bun with Sriracha cream sauce. Now, I had mixed feelings about this. First, I’ll put the picture below so you can see what the dish looked like.
So literally a crab, fried and put onto a bun. I had to psych myself up to eat this one. Now I like crab – when it’s from a hard shell and you’re not expected to eat the shell. This crab was still fully dressed in his shell and I had to eat the tiny legs and claws! So, turns out, soft shell crab legs taste as you would expect. Like a fried shell. Pretty awful and bland. Thankfully the body made up for it, I quickly pulled off the legs and claws to the dismay of the lady on the next table and ate the rest of the course.
I’m actually glad we got to try this dish. Firstly because it was a special, so next time we might not get the chance and secondly because I can’t say I’ve ever eaten a crab inside it’s shell before. I do have to admit though, I won’t be ordering this dish again soon!
I need to admit that at this point in the meal I needed a break. I had just eaten a pretty large steamed bun and plenty of food before that. Somehow it seemed that the waiting staff knew and we were given a short break before our last couple of dishes were cooked.
After our break, we were sharing our fifth dish which was Prawn Katsu Maki Rolls. I’m greatful that we were only given 4 pieces to share, since some restaurants serve 8-10 Maki pieces! This dish was tasty as expected and was a kind of sushi I would have ordered if we’d chosen the a la carte option.
Our sushi was followed by our first and only chicken dish of chicken meatballs. Sounds simple enough right? But in the small dish next to our skewers we were presented with a raw egg yolk on top of soy sauce. Immediately my salmonella alarm was making me think twice about the dipping sauce. But Jamie mixed it and tried it first, promising that it didn’t taste like the chicken was covered with raw egg.
It transpired that if you mix soy sauce and egg yolk it pretty much tastes like extra salty soy sauce (at least it did to me). I can also report a day later that I don’t have salmonella if you were wondering..
Now I have to admit, our last course was a seared salmon nigiri, it was amazing but as soon as it arrived, we threw it in our mouths and forgot to take a picture! This was one of our favourite dishes (and it obviously looked amazing too!) but we demolished it in one bite!
After getting over excited about the sushi, we had reached our £35 limit. It was up to us whether we wanted to continue or finish. We of course chose to finish since we were completely full!
Well, I say that, but we were tempted by the homemade truffles and decided to finish with a glass of wine and truffles.
When we left, we realised we had been at the restaurant for over 2 hours! The staff were great with us and checked whether we enjoyed each course. The Omakase style was perfect for us since we love to try new food. I would recommend the experience to anyone who wants to try something different or find new favourites. But, handing over the choice to your waiter is definitely risky if you are a fussy eater!
We can’t wait to go back to the restaurant and try it all over again! We love this type of dining experience, so let me know if you have visited anywhere fun like this yourself!