Omakase (omakase shimasu) means "I'll leave it up to you". It is a Japanese style of eating where the customer trusts the chef completely and is presented with whatever the chef feels like cooking, usually a variety of nigiri and sushi.
Sokyo is a popular Japanese restaurant located in the Star Casino of Sydney CBD. We've dined here a few times (June 2016; April 2018), usually for their a la carte menu.
On Tuesday 4th Februrary 2020, our friend, Theresa, got us seats to an omakase with Chef Takashi Sano! The usual queue time for these seats is minimum 1 year, and usually through a connection 😱 When we found out how far in advanced the omakase experience was booked out for, we were so grateful for the opportunity, we fasted to maximise our stomach contents lol. It was a 21 dish + desserts course and every piece tasted like happiness. It was $180 pp.
To start an already amazing night, we got a few drinks. The top was the chasing kojima, comprising of yuzu sake, pink grapefruit, lemongrass and elderflower. The bottom was the peach boyz, I believe, with the smooth creme de peche on top of the pampero blanco rum.
It was very fascinating watching Sokyo staff prepare the dishes for the other guests. Once Chef Sano took the stage, we were in awe at his craftsmanship. The reason we had to wait was because not all of our group had arrived yet - chefs will not start cooking until everyone is present as the preparation is part of the show and experience of omakase.
Let's start eating.
First was a marinated ocean trout. The fish was creamy, fatty and really tender. The seaweed sauce drenched the fish and added a nice sweetness - it was a good balance. The crispy shisho on top created a beautiful contrast in texture. Everything about this bite was delicious. It was a big bang to start the dinner and we all wanted more of this dish.
This was the steamed abalone. Chef Sano said this abalone was fished from Tasmania, brought to Sydney, steamed for a long 8 hours and soaked in a rich umami sauce. This bite had a sweeter touch. The abalone was soooooo tender, with the perfect bounce to the bite.
This was grilled tuna belly with a sweet miso glaze. It tasted like a braised piece of fish; so well balanced and marinated with a soft, mushy texture. The herbs added a subtle freshness to the bite.
This was the wagyu tenderloin with shallot chips. We could literally feel the fat striations of the wagyu on our tongue. It was so tender, it honestly melted in our mouths. There was a nice wasabi kick in the juicy bite of the tataki. The shallot chips had a bubbly crunchiness that added a nice depth of flavour.
Even the palate cleanser looked amazing! This was simply picked ginger and sliced radish but the way Chef Sano placed this on my plate, over the glass counter, deserves a damn nice photo of its own.
Chef Sano found our photo shenanigans amusing 😊
This was the pearl shellfish, caught and brought over from Western Australia. It was very creamy and full of flavour. The texture was soft, light and bouncy.
This was the chuutoro blue fin tuna. Chuutoro is the name for medium fatty tuna in Japanese. This bite was sooooo soft. I have to exaggerate the soft because every bite so far has been 'soft' but this tuna, this particular chuutoro tuna, made us all go "mmmmmm" after our initial chomp. It was a delicious bite we tried to savour for as long as we could.
This was cured scampi. For those unfamiliar with scampi, they are small crustaceans, like prawns, with a creamy profile. This dish was really fresh, with a bouncy mouthfeel, creamy texture and a hint of sweetness.
You thought we were done with the phrase 'melt in your mouth' but this bite, the otoro tuna belly, is the reason we love dining at top quality restaurants. Otoro is the term for the fattiest part of the tuna. This nigiri had individual pieces of otoro wrapped around each other, with hints of negitoro (leftover tuna that cannot be served on its own nigiri piece). To say this fish melted is an understated. The flavours of tuna, without the ocean stench, bursted as our tongues licked every inch of our mouths for residue of this bite. SO GOOD! 🤤😍
This was the red snapper aburi. Aburi means the nigiri was partially grilled on the topside, usually by a blowtorch. The slightly seared fish brought about charred flavours and mild tenderness. It was slightly warm when served.
This was the scales of a tile fish in tempura style. Tempura is the Japanese term for deep frying seafood or vegetables. The batter was very light and crispy. It had a really delicate texture. The lime brought forward the juicy, acidic profile and even the salt flakes were addicting!
What a cute bowl! This was ikura with spanner crab. The savoury ikura (fish roe) were bursting with juice and the lime zest added a nice zing to the mild spanner crab flavour. There was a lot of variety in texture in this dish.
This was the aburi hamachi. Hamachi is the Japanese amberjack or yellowtail fish. This bite had a nice contrast in coolness from the raw fish and warmth from the grilled texture. The minced spring onions were finely chopped and added a good balance.
Another otoro! This was the aburi otoro. The charcoal flavours brought out so much flavour and richness to the bite. The texture was not as squirmy as the raw fish alone. With the aburi, the entire piece disintegrated in our mouths. The grated radish on top added a nice subtle freshness.
This was the Hokkaido scallops. The aburi style gave the hotate a nice charcoal flavour too. The scallop, imported from North Japan, tasted creamy, light and soft, like a cloud. It was all wrapped nicely in a crispy sheet of roasted seaweed.
This beautiful dish was the scallop ravioli, scampi bisque sauce and yuzu foam. Look at how pretty this dish was! It tasted like a fancy, delicious dimsum/yumcha. The yuzu was very subtle and the foam was fun to eat.
We have a winner for the night! 😍 This was the most complex and decadent piece of the entire course and I would do anything to eat this, over and over. This was the squid with uni, wrapped in crispy toasted seaweed. Uni is the Japanese word for sea urchin. It is very difficult to prepare raw sea urchin well but Chef Sano 👏🏻. The uni did not have that overpowering ocean taste. It was creamy and rich. The squid had a bouncy, tender texture whereas the seaweed was finely crispy and everything mashed together was such a vibrant bite. Topped with kaffir lime leaves, this was definitely voted the best dish of the night.
This was the crispy skinned salmon, caught and delivered from Tasmania. The skin was sooo finely crispy, like unbelievably fine, that I would not mind having the satisfying crunch sound, on repeat, for the rest of my life. The ikura added a lovely burst of freshness and the entire bite was very aromatic.
This was the unagi. It was braised to perfection. There was a sweet soy flavour and the bite was juicy and sauce as fuck. The lime zest added a vibrant dimension.
This was the spicy fish roe with rice wrapped in seaweed and spring onion. The negitoro handroll is always a mix of flavours because it has a lot of leftovers shoved into one beautiful piece. Never let food go to waste! This was a big bite and honestly I was starting to fall off the wagon at this point.
This was the snapper head and tail fishbone soup. The flavours were creamy and rich, with good depth of fish. The colour was viscous and milky.
This was tamago and you can never go wrong with fluffy eggs! This was a perfect small, bouncy bite. It tasted almost like a egg-flavoured cheese cake. The egg flavour was very mild. It was eggcellent.
Chef Sano putting on theatrics as he placed my nigiri on my plate 😍
For desserts, we were given an array of Chef's selection to share between 2 people. These items can be ordered off the menu.
This was the Nikka caramel macchiato, with coffee ice cream, coco nibs, and whiskey foam . It was very light with mild flavours.
The simple goma street - sesame ice cream with caramelized white chocolate.
I believe this was the chocolate fondant, with peanut butter and chocolate, with caramel mousse. A contrasting of texture with a strong sweetness.
This was the Sokyo "mochi ice cream". It is gluten free, made of yatsuhashi kyoto mochi and a frozen strawberry milk shake inside. It was really refreshing and not overly sweet. The mochi was soft and chewable.
This was a great way to start our 2020. The omakase was such an intimate and delicious experience we would highly recommend. We would go back and order our favourite dishes as a la carte if we could but alas, omakase is such a unique and exclusive meal. Guess we have to book in for next year - that's how far in advance you have to have your life together 😳. If you're looking for a lovely place to dine at, Sokyo is a great option for trying traditional and fusion Japanese food. It has great ambiance, dim lights and a classy atmosphere; perfect for dates and catch-ups.
Thank you Theresa for taking us to our first omakase! 🥰💕
And thank you Annie for eating my leftovers.