Omakase (お任せ) is a phrase that literally means "to entrust". Means, when you order Omakase at a Japanese restaurant, you are entrusting the chef to prepare your meal at his whim; from appetizer to dessert. He will then select the freshest local/seasonal ingredients-of-the-day and arrange them into sequence, giving you a special dining experience, featuring both hot & cold dishes that demonstrates the diversity of authentic Japanese cuisine.
Typically you can enjoy Omakase at any tables or at the Sushi Bar, but I'd recommend the latter one just so that the chef can serve the meal right in front of your seat. The whole experience just got personal and you can see how your food is being made through the sharp sushi-knife and the super-skilled chef's hands.
There aren't many sushi restaurants in Jakarta that serves Omakase, so I feel very grateful that I know personally Umaku's head chef, Chef Uki, and requested the master himself by appointment. In case you didn't know, Umaku still ranks as my #1 pick for authentic sushi restaurant in Jakarta. I've written about Umaku somewhere before. When the 10 of us (bloggers and... well, solely gourmand eaters :p) had this discussion over twitter, Jeny from Jenzcornet.net had a really great initiative:
Long story short, we made it to that night. A night I'm really glad that I took a part in it. It was my BEST sushi dining experience in Jakarta, so far. We were lucky enough to have both Chef Uki (Umaku Head Chef) & Chef Syaiful (from Umaku Duren Tiga) at our service that night. There were 18 courses, inclusive with generous special bonuses. Without further adieu, here goes:
1. CHERRY TOMATO SALAD
2. SALMON SASHIMI
3. MAGURO NATTO
Natto - fermented soybeans that has a sticky web surface and quite strong smell. I know Japanese says that it's super healthy and all, but I just can't get myself to like this one. Tried once before and I ended up puking. True story. But compared with how traditional Japanese eat it - with rice and half-boiled egg - I guess it tastes far better when you combine tuna (maguro), small spring onions (wakegi), seaweed (nori) and shoyu, like what we had that night:
4. MEKAJIKI SASHIMI (Sword Fish)
5. IKA SASHIMI (Squid)
Now, there are moments in a food-blogger's life where she thought her palate already tasted the best of the best, but then she keep getting surprised as she discovers a BETTER version of the best.
Yes, I'm talking about squid sashimi. Let me describe more.
This was, one of the most memorable thing that got into my mouth that night. We all know how squid tastes like, but very few enjoy raw fresh squid. HINT: IF IT'S HANDLED SKILLFULLY, IT JUST MELTS IN YOUR MOUTH. Who knew raw squid could taste and have texture as delicate as young coconut? The technique was to make sure to remove all of the squid's outer cuticle layers. (in Bahasa Indonesia we call it "kulit ari"). Usually the hardest one to remove is the last invisible layer, but the trick is to use paper cloth to pat dry and repeal its super thin membrane. I can't thank the chef enough for this one, too good!
7. HIYASHI SOUMEN
8. BONUS, YAY! Chef Special's: AKAMI NIMONO
The next dish is what surprised us the most. This is the one that I've never eaten before. When it came, we all thought that this was chunks of beef ribs in herb aromatic broth (we thought of Konro Makassar at the first glance), but turns out Akami Nimono is tuna fin soup in a light shoyu and fish stock, and sprinkled with finely chopped wakegi on top. Akami: red meat part of tuna, Nimono: soup. The type of tuna is also what surprises us. Chef Uki says that he had to prepare the meal days before, and it only uses giant tuna with over >150kgs in weight (I'm guessing it's a blue fin tuna?). So yes, we tasted tuna in its best & most unique form, and we had no regrets.
I'M TELLING YOU, THIS... WAS THE CHAMPION COURSE OF THE NIGHT!
9. TORO SUSHI
At this point right after, we were served authentic sushi of 8 different types. And just like what I've seen in sushi documentary film, Jiro Dream's of Sushi, this is how sushi connoisseur enjoy their sushi. The sushi(s) were a bit warm because it's made in seconds in front of us, and you don't need to dip in shoyu or add wasabi anymore because the chef already prepare it for you. Also, you are advised to eat them by hand directly, no chopsticks required, and then swallow the whole thing at once. Classy! What I've always dreamed of.
10. EBI SUSHI
11. TAKO SUSHI
12. KANI (Crab) MISO SOUP
13. TORO ABURI
14. SALMON GOMA SUSHI
15. SHIITAKE ABURI SUSHI
16. TAMAGO TEMAKI
17. UNAGI SUSHI
AND FINALLY.. THE 18TH COURSE: MOCHI ICE CREAM.
So I guess that's a wrap. No more words. YOU JUST GOTTA TRY OMAKASE AT UMAKU YOURSELF. And then let me know how it went, how will yours differ from mine, what kind of random kindness & complementary bonuses that the chef gave you... ~ Trust me, you'll be surprised.
Price? No worries, if you can afford regular steak in your daily meal, I'm telling you that this is far worth the price. Please contact Umaku directly and make sure you've made your reservation at least few days before hand :)
Umaku Duren Tiga
Jl. Duren Tiga Raya no.32, Jakarta Selatan
Telp 021 79170337
Another Umaku branch in Jabodetabek:
Citi Walk Blok CW 1 No.26 Citra Grand Cibubur
Phone: +62 21 84303732, +62 21 84303733
Twitter: you can contact the @chef_uki himself :)
Jl. Tebet Raya no.141, Jakarta Selatan (150m sebelum Stasiun Tebet)
Telp 021 83709132