While in a small bar, my friend was deejaying and I was just hanging around a bit and listening to drinks being ordered and fun being had. A girl who I vaguely knew came up to the bar and ordered a drink but what she said was a bit strange. She simply said “Omakase”
Knowing that she had spent some time in the UK and she had the spirit of the Liver bird in her I asked what that meant. She told me the meaning was “whatever“. The rest of my time there I became a bit obsessed with the idea that in Japanese bars up and down the land people were ordering their drinks with a dismissive “whatever“.
Only when I got home, looked it up and had a wee conversation with my Japanese teacher that I learnt that really it means something like “I leave it up to you.” It is often said when ordering cocktails in a bar or sushi in a restaurant when you are a regular and the server knows what you like. Despite the fact I’m not a regular anywhere, I thought I would ask for this in a few places and see what on earth would happen and what would appear on my plate.
Sushi - In my favourite sushi restaurant they took this request very seriously. It may have just been that I had ordered from the sushi chef that never smiles but she asked me my sushi likes and dislikes and dutifully made me an interesting dish.
The squid, amberjack, shrimp and white thing combination was delicious.
Yakitori – At my local chicken on a stick place the omakase request was greeted with smiles and confusion. Eventually the waitress just decided to give me the house recommendation. Which was…
…more chicken on a stick. This one had a nice sauce on it though.
Dessert – At an izakaya I was once asked if I wanted choose from a selection of their delicious deserts. I felt this was a good time to spring an omakase on them. Again there was a shocked look and eventually a very simple dessert landed on my table.
This milk doughnut did hit the spot.
Alcohol – At one of my favourite drinking places they have rather a long bar. After I asked for omakase the barman had an equally long think. He then presented me with this:
It was sake mixed with lime cordial. It tasted quite good but got rather overexposed by the flash.
I realise now that if you put all these things together it would have made rather a pleasant light dinner. I may have to try my hand at omakaseing a whole meal.